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Wavy Abstract Background

Ongoing effort to eliminate these two childhood infectious diseases coordinated by the World Health Organisation. I was working with this project when based in the Polish public health institute.

Measles and rubella elimination

Measles and rubella elimination

Since I started employment as Public Health epidemiologist, I was involved with measles and rubella elimination initiative. My contribution in Poland was to develop surveillance databases to improve disease monitoring. I initiated some of the first investigations of measles outbreaks and helped incorporating the genotyping of viral strains from Poland at the WHO reference laboratory in Berlin in mid-2000' When I was working with measles surveillance, a problem with rubella has been identified. Poland registered much higher incidence of rubella than any other European country. In 2009-2010, WHO sent teams of experts to review the existing and collect additional data on rubella. Following a thorough analysis, we recommended supplementary vaccinations of young male adults which were mostly affected. Unfortunately vaccination was not organised and a large outbreak of rubella among young males happened in 2013, leading in increased risk of congenital rubella infections. In the work on measles and rubella surveillance I developed many fruitful collaborations with the Polish microbiologists, colleagues from other countries and from the WHO.

Why does it matter?

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to humanity. Having an excellent and effective vaccine, it is theoretically possible to wipe the virus out from the planet. But this needs countries to collaborate and involve their societies in the common effort. When I started this work, it looked that this is feasible. Measles control was improved especially in former Soviet republics. Unfortunately during the last decade (2010-2020) the vision became more distant due to increasing vaccine skepticism :(
Rubella was added to this initiative because it can lead to similar symptoms as measles. It is usually a mild disease, but can lead to devastating congenital infection. Also, it is even more easy to eliminate than measles as it is less infectious and has an equally effective preventive measure (vaccine).

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