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Drop in measles deaths

Measles deaths have decreased by 75 percent globally this decade, thanks to global efforts to vaccinate children in hard-hit regions of the world.

Drop in measles deaths

Measles deaths have decreased by 75 percent globally this decade, thanks to global efforts to vaccinate children in Africa and other hard-hit regions of the world. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known. Almost all non-immune children contract this respiratory disease if exposed to the virus. It is an acute illness caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family. This virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and in the cells that line the lungs. About 90 percent of the worldwide measles deaths claim children under age 5 years. These usually are caused by complications rather than the respiratory disease itself. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death associated with measles. Other complications include severe diarrohea, ear infections and encephalitis. As per WHO statistics, 8.5 million children in India-- more than in any other country – are not given their first dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday. Most of the 23.3 million infants worldwide who did not get a first dose last year lived in India and seven other nations: Nigeria, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bangladesh, WHO officials reported. The World Health Organization launched (WHO) launched Measles Initiative partnership for reducing measles mortality. The programme is spearheaded by the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the United Nations Foundation and UNICEF. As per WHO reports, the death toll due to measles was an estimated 750,000 in 2000 and has fallen to 197,000 in 2007. In Africa, where measles had claimed its biggest toll, deaths fell by an astonishing 89 percent, from an estimated 395,000 in 2000 to 45,000 last year, health officials reported. As a part of the programme, more than 600 million children in more than 60 countries have been vaccinated against measles since 2001. The vaccination efforts, which cost more than $600 million, saved about four million lives. A global goal set by the WHO is a 90 percent reduction in worldwide measles deaths by 2010 compared to 2000.
World Health Organisation
December 2008
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