MONDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Deaths from measles fell 74 percent worldwide between 2000 and 2010, but progress is still short of the World Health Organization's target, health officials reported Monday.
"This is one of the most remarkable victories in the history of public health," said Anthony Lake, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), during a morning press briefing, while calling for increased vaccination efforts.
The WHO, which aimed to cut measles deaths by 90 percent between 2000 and 2010, said India -- with the world's highest rate of measles deaths -- and Africa have offset the considerable gains made elsewhere.
In the United States, which since 2008 has had no reported measles deaths, 222 cases of measles were reported in 2011 -- the most in 15 years. Nearly all stemmed from foreign travel, and a majority of those who developed the disease had not been vaccinated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week.
Vaccination is the only way to prevent measles, experts say. Mass vaccination programs around the globe "were the main driver behind the huge fall in mortality," the researchers said, noting more than 1 billion doses of measles vaccine were dispensed over the past decade.
But still more people need vaccination, health experts say.
"The bad news is that every day measles still claims 382 lives worldwide -- a vast majority of them children under 5 -- and every one of them could have been saved by two doses of 22-cent vaccine," Lake said. The vaccine was introduced in 1963.
The report was published in the April 23 online issue of the journal The Lancet.
For the study, Peter Strebel, from the WHO's department of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, and colleagues developed a new statistical model to assess measles around the world.
The researchers found mea
All rights reserved