The World Health Organization has declared Cambodia measles-free, having not registered a confirmed case in over three years, marking a success in combating what was once the country’s most deadly communicable disease.
In the announcement made at the WHO Regional Verification Commission, held in Macau last week, Cambodia appeared alongside Japan and Brunei Darrussalam as countries that have now eliminated measles.
The designation drew praise from WHO Country Representative in Cambodia Dr Dongil Ahn, who emphasised the ongoing nature of the battle against the disease.
“Our next steps now would be to strengthen measles surveillance and maintain optimal population immunity,” Ahn told the commission.
It is the culmination of the country’s most recent drive to tackle measles, launched in February 2011, following campaigns in 2001 and 2007, and efforts dating back to the 1980s.
Prior to 1998, measles was the most deadly communicable disease in Cambodia, and as recently as 2008 more than 1,500 cases were reported among children.
According to professor Sann Chan Soeung, of the Health Ministry’s National Immunization Program, a country is classified by the WHO as having “eliminated” a disease when there is less than one case per million people among the population.
Despite this allowance, Chan Soeung said no laboratory-confirmed cases had been recorded since November 2011. Chan Soeung added that the government will now turn its attention to combating rubella.