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Posted by on Dec 8, 2009 in Epidemiology, Infectious diseases, Pediatrics

Measles Initiative Needs Funds to Avert Rise in Measles Deaths

Measles Initiative Needs Funds to Avert Rise in Measles Deaths

Lack of funds may stall the Measles Initiative, a multi-organization program designed to reduce the worldwide mortality of measles. Despite the fact that all regions, except for Southeast Asia, have achieved the United Nations goal of reducing measles mortality by 90% from 2000 to 2010 (and have, thereby, prevented 12.7 million measles deaths), the reduction in measles mortality has leveled off since 2007, and the Initiative is facing a funding gap of $59 million, reports the World Health Organization. (WHO’s complementary report on the progress toward reducing measles-related deaths can be found in the latest issue of the MMWR.)

Lack of financial resources could suspend the Initiative’s pivotal vaccination efforts next year in densely populated regions like China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. And because measles is highly contagious, the disease can flourish rapidly if immunity is lacking, report WHO officials.

Although measles-related deaths fell 78% globally, from 733,000 in 2000 to 164,000 in 2008, 77% of last year’s deaths (126,000) occurred in Southeast Asia. Experts fear that there could be a significant uptick in measles-related deaths, to an estimated 1.7 million between 2010 and 2013, if vaccination efforts do not continue.

Estimated No. Measles Deaths, 2000-2008, and Projected Deaths, 2009-2013


The Initiative’s strategy to reduce measles mortality consists of achieving and maintaining high coverage (90% nationally) with 2 doses of measles vaccine. In Africa, Southeast Asia, and eastern Mediterranean countries, coverage with the first measles vaccine dose remained less than 80% in 2008.

Donations to the Measles Initiative can be made through the program’s web site.

§ 95% uncertainty intervals.

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.