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Posted by on Dec 4, 2008 in Epidemiology, Infectious diseases

Global Measles Initiative a Success, but Funding Needed

Global Measles Initiative a Success, but Funding Needed

Despite the return of measles to the United Kingdom, the United States, and Gibraltar, worldwide deaths from the highly contagious, viral disease have dropped dramatically, according to the World Health Organisation. The plunge in measles-related deaths, from 750,000 in the year 2000 to 197,000 last year, is due to a massive, coordinated vaccination effort, the Measles Initiative. In Africa and countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region* specifically, the effort has resulted in a fall in measles deaths by approximately 90% during the same time period. The goal of the Measles Initiativewhich is led by the American Red Cross, the CDC, the UN Foundation, UNICEF, and WHOis to reduce the number of measles deaths worldwide by at least 90% by the year 2010.




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Because the majority of measles-related deaths no longer occur in Africa, vaccination efforts are now being intensified in other regionsparticularly India, where 8.5 million children do not receive their first dose of measles vaccine by 1 year of age. According to a spokesperson for the UN Foundation, the success of the campaign depends on urgently needed funds for the next 2 years.

* Includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Sudan.

Photo of measles vaccination in Bangladesh by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross.

12/05/08 update: This week’s MMWR provides additional tabulated and graphic data. In Southeast Asia, the number of measles deaths dropped from 235,000 to 136,000 (42%) during the period from 2000 to 2007. In the Western Pacific, measles deaths fell from 25,000 to 7000 (73%). The estimated number of measles deaths in the Americas or Europe is less than 1000 for all years, with vaccination coverage rates of 93% and 94%, respectively.  

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.