The epidemiology department reports that there is a trend of increasing measles cases in Sri Lanka since May 2023. Accordingly, the Ministry of Health is preparing to provide a series of additional measles vaccines. It is reported that Sri Lanka will receive the support of UNICEF and the World Health Organization for that.
So far, more than 700 cases have been reported across the island, and the first phase of the campaign to provide additional vaccines in nine districts that have been severely affected by the epidemic is scheduled to begin on January 6.
Targeted districts include Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Kandy, Jaffna, Kurunegala and Kalmunai, where high population density has led to the spread of measles. The second phase, scheduled for January 20, will cover additional age groups across the country.
Commenting on the crucial role of immunization to prevent the spread of the disease, UNICEF representative in Sri Lanka, Christian Skoog, said that even with high immunization coverage, measles outbreaks can occur, especially when spreading regionally.
He further said that the Ministry of Health is taking active measures to control the epidemic situation and UNICEF is happy to support that effort.
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has been included in Sri Lanka’s immunization program since 1984. In 2019, Sri Lanka was declared a measles-free country by the World Health Organization, but due to the decline in global immunization coverage from 2020 to 2022, measles has been on the rise again in the region.