PAHO Deputy Director Dr. Jon Andrus launched a special supplement of the Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID) on rubella elimination in the Americas, during this week's meeting of the 51st PAHO Directing Council.

The journal supplement includes 29 articles describing the process and specific efforts that led to the elimination of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome from the Americas—"a landmark public achievement in the Western Hemisphere that ranks with polio and measles," Andrus said.

"We know that success stories always stimulate interest," the PAHO Deputy Director told a session of the Directing Council attended by a number of the articles' authors. "Hopefully, in this way your story will also stimulate action in other parts of the world and ultimately initiate well-coordinated and managed global action. "

The articles cover subjects including mass vaccination campaigns, surveillance, laboratory support, control of outbreaks due to importations, the verification process, and the role that rubella elimination has played in helping to strengthen primary care services. Experiences were taken from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Peru and Venezuela.

Andrus noted that JID is "one of the most respected peer-reviewed scientific journals in circulation" and that this is the first peer-reviewed supplement to be produced by one particular WHO region.

"We believe that these experiences represent the best practices in immunization," Andrus said. "They reflect the diversity of our Region and the common epidemiological trends, achievements, and challenges that the immunization programs faced to achieve the regional goal of elimination."

Andrus said the elimination of rubella itself is a "victory of partnerships," quoting PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses in her foreword to the JID supplement. Partners in the effort included the ministries of health of the region, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, Health Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, the Serum Institute of India, the March of Dimes, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, among others.

"The elimination of rubella clearly demonstrates that if we collectively work together we possess the knowledge and the tools to move mountains," Andrus said.

Andrus emphasized the importance of maintaining these partnerships and continuing joint efforts to prevent the return of endemic rubella.

"We cannot drop our guard as long as rubella and measles are circulating in other parts of the world," he said. "We remain bombarded with importations. We must keep doing the follow-up campaigns every four to five years until there is no more transmission globally."