NEW DELHI - The World Health Organization says Bhutan and the Maldives have eliminated measles, becoming the first countries in their region to stop the highly contagious child killer.
WHO said Tuesday that the Maldives has not reported any case of indigenous measles since 2009, and Bhutan since 2012.
Bhutan and the Maldives launched immunization programs around 40 years ago with a strategy of mass vaccination campaigns in high-risk populations.
WHO has set a deadline of 2020 for the elimination of measles in 11 countries in Asia, among other regions.
Last year, North and South America were declared free of measles, but last month an outbreak was reported in Minnesota.
Measles, an airborne disease spread through coughing and sneezing, can lead to pneumonia, brain inflammation, hospitalization or death, mainly among children.