Stopping measles and rubella with one combined vaccine
Efforts in countries to increase access to measles vaccination has reduced measles deaths worldwide by 74%, from an estimated 535 300 deaths in 2000 to 139 300 in 2010.
Through increased routine immunization coverage and large-scale immunization campaigns, Sub-Saharan Africa made the most progress with an 85% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010.
Since 2001, the Measles & Rubella Initiative (formerly the Measles Initiative) of which WHO is a founding partner has supported countries to vaccinate more than 1 billion children against measles.
“A three-quarters drop in measles deaths worldwide shows just how effective well-run vaccination programmes can be,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization. “Now we need to take the next logical step and vaccinate children against rubella, too.”
The newest data, published in the Lancet on 24 April 2012, underscores that progress in reducing measles deaths was especially strong from 2001 to 2008. However, when investment and political commitment to measles control faltered in 2008 and 2009, many children were not immunized. Measles came roaring back and caused large outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. In 2010, an estimated 19 million infants ― mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia ― did not receive measles vaccine.
However, experience and success in the past, including the elimination of measles and rubella from the Americas, demonstrates that the vaccination strategies work. The Measles & Rubella Initiative is backing a new 2012-2020 Measles & Rubella Strategic Plan. The Strategic plan presents a five-pronged strategy to cut global measles deaths by at least 95% by 2015 compared with 2000 levels and to achieve measles and rubella elimination in at least five WHO regions by 2020. The strategies include: high vaccination coverage; monitoring spread of disease using laboratory-backed surveillance; outbreak preparedness and response and case management; communication and community engagement; and research and development.
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European countries must take action now to prevent continued measles outbreaks in 2012
The Measles Initiative vaccinates one billion children in first decade
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- Measles & Rubella Initiative
- American Red Cross
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- GAVI Alliance
- United Nations Foundation
Last updated: 24 April 2012