PRESS RELEASE – Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne in a letter to the Minister for Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, Hon. Alvina Reynolds congratulated the health care sector in St. Lucia for its vital role in the region’s landmark achievement.
“The Americas has had a long and successful history of disease eradication and elimination initiatives, and was first in the world to interrupt the indigenous transmission of smallpox (1971) and polio (1994).
In 2003, Member States of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization set the common goal of eliminating rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) from the region by 2010. This goal was achieved in 2009, when the last confirmed endemic cases of rubella and CRS were reported in the Americas.
Today, I am privileged and delighted to announce that the region of the Americas has become the first in the world to be declared free of endemic rubella and CRS by an international expert committee.
This historic achievement culminates a 15 year elimination effort supported by sustained political will and unwavering commitment of your government, as well as the strong leadership of your health officials.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the legion of health care workers in your country who demonstrated an unstinting determination to bring the gift of immunization to every corner of our hemisphere, vaccinating more than 250 million adolescents and adults against measles and rubella. We will be forever grateful for their tireless efforts.
The fight against rubella has taken more than 15 years but it has paid off with what I believe will be remembered as one of the most important Pan American public health achievements of the 21st century. Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and finish the job of measles elimination so that we can declare the Americas free of measles as well.”
The Ministry of Health has welcomed the news of this tremendous achievement by the Region of the Americas of which St. Lucia is part and has in recent months ramp up its immunization campaign to eliminate potential gaps.