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Sunday 27th May 2018

World is beating measles

23rd January 2007

20062006_measles1.jpg Measles deaths in children around the world have fallen by 60% worldwide since 1999, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has called the result "a major public health success".

The figures exceeded a United Nations goal to halve measles deaths between 1999 and 2005 and was largely due to an unprecedented decline in measles deaths in the African region, WHO said in a statement on its website.

According to new data from the WHO, global measles deaths fell from an estimated 873,000 deaths in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005. In Africa, measles deaths fell by 75%, from an estimated 506,000 to 126,000.

“This is an historic victory for global public health, for the power of partnership and for commitment by countries to fight a terrible disease," said WHO director-general Margaret Chan.

"Our promise to cut measles deaths by half and save hundreds of thousands of lives has not only been fulfilled, it has been surpassed in just six years with Africa leading the way."

The 75% reduction in measles deaths in Africa was due to the firm commitment and resources of national governments, and support from the Measles Initiative, which is made up of the American Red Cross, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the WHO.

The strategy has consisted of the provision of one dose of measles vaccine for all infants via routine health services, a second opportunity for measles immunisation for all children, generally through mass vaccination campaigns, effective surveillance for measles, and enhanced care, including the provision of supplemental vitamin A, the WHO said.

As a result of this strategy, between 1999 and 2005 global measles immunisation coverage with the first routine dose increased from 71% to 77%, and more than 360 million children aged nine months to 15 years received measles vaccine through immunisation campaigns, it said.

But it said there was still "some way to go", adding that, of the estimated 345,000 measles deaths in 2005, 90% were among children under the age of five – many dying as a result of complications related to severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and encephalitis.

It called for the further reduction of global measles deaths by 90% by 2010, compared to 2000 levels.


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