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Measles Deaths in Africa Plunge by 91%
Date:11/29/2007

Mass vaccination campaigns have had a major impact on reducing global measles deaths. From 2000 to 2006, an estimated 478 million children aged nine months to 14 years received measles vaccine through campaigns in 46 out of the 47 priority countries severely affected by the disease.

In 2006, global routine measles vaccination coverage reached an estimated 80 percent for the first time, up from 72 percent in 2000. The largest improvements in vaccination coverage were in the African and the Eastern Mediterranean regions.

"The dramatic drop in measles deaths in Africa and the strong progress being made worldwide are a testament to the power of strong partnerships and the impact they can have on child survival," said Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF. "But measles is still killing nearly 600 children under five every day, an unacceptable reality when we have a safe, effective, and inexpensive vaccine to prevent the disease."

Major challenges still need to be overcome to achieve the goal to cut global measles deaths by 90 percent in the period 2000-2010. Large countries with high numbers of measles deaths, such as India and Pakistan, need to fully implement the proven control strategy. Currently, about 74 percent of measles deaths globally occur in South Asia.

In addition, countries that have implemented accelerated measles control activities must sustain the gains that they have made. This means that all measles priority countries must continue conducting follow-up vaccination activities every two to four years until their routine immunization systems are capable of providing measles vaccination to all children.

"Through the tireless efforts of millions of health workers and volunteers from our Red Cross and Red Crescent family, as well as our dedicated partners, such as the Latter-day Saints, we literally go door-to-door informing, educating and motivating mothers and caregivers about the critical need to
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SOURCE American Red Cross
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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