WHO finds decline in number of measles deaths between 2000 and 2011

Published on January 18, 2013 at 1:01 AM · No Comments

The number of measles deaths globally decreased by 71% between 2000 and 2011, from 542 000 to 158 000. Over the same period, new cases dropped 58% from 853 500 in 2000 to 355 000 in 2011, according to new data released Thursday by WHO, a leading member of the Measles and Rubella Initiative. Although the WHO Region of the Americas has sustained measles elimination since 2002, and the WHO Western Pacific Region is on track to achieve elimination, large outbreaks of measles are jeopardizing progress in the remaining regions that have these goals.

Success of vaccination coverage

WHO recommends that every child receive two doses of measles vaccine. The new data, published in this week's edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and then in WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Record, show overall progress in reducing deaths is linked largely to increased vaccination coverage.

Estimated global coverage with a first dose of vaccine increased from 72% in 2000 to 84% in 2011. The number of countries providing the second dose through routine services increased from 97 in 2000 to 141 in 2011. Since 2000, with support from the Measles & Rubella Initiative, more than 1 billion children have been reached through mass vaccination campaigns - about 225 million of them in 2011.

Unprotected population

Despite this global progress, some populations remain unprotected. An estimated 20 million children worldwide did not receive the first dose of vaccine in 2011. More than half of these children live in five countries:

  • the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (0.8 million)
  • Ethiopia (1 million)
  • India (6.7 million)
  • Nigeria (1.7 million)
  • Pakistan (0.9 million)

Measles outbreaks

In 2011, large measles outbreaks were reported in all these countries and several others in:

  • DRC (134 042 cases)
  • Ethiopia (3255 cases)
  • France (14 949 cases)
  • India (29 339 cases)
  • Italy (5189 cases)
  • Nigeria (18 843 cases)
  • Pakistan (4386 cases)
  • Spain (3802 cases)

Most of these countries are in WHO regions which have committed to eliminate measles by 2015 or 2020.

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