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Global Goal to Reduce Measles Deaths in Children Surpassed

Measles deaths have fallen by 60% worldwide since 1999 is a major public health success. This exceeds the United Nations goal to halve measles deaths between 1999 and 2005 // and is largely due to an unprecedented decline in measles deaths in the African region. The progress was announced today by partners in the Measles Initiative: the American Red Cross, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to new data from WHO, global measles deaths fell from an estimated 873 000 deaths in 1999 to 345 000 in 2005. In Africa, the progress has been even greater, with measles deaths falling by 75%, from an estimated 506 000 to 126 000. The data will be published in this week’s edition of The Lancet.

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 Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. "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 is due to the firm commitment and resources of national governments, and support from the Measles Initiative. It is described as a spectacular achievement, by Mr U Olanguena Awono, Minister of Public Health, Cameroon. “We are winning the fight against measles, which has long killed, sickened and disabled our children. Our determination is stronger than ever to make measles history by further strengthening our measles control activities, working in concert with our international partners and setting aside resources.”

A strategy to reduce measles mortality, consisting of four components, has been key to ensuring the massive global decrease in measles deaths. The strategy calls for:

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