Success: dramatic fall in global measles deaths

Editorial Board

Editorial Board

May 23rd, 2012

Editorial Board

‘The number of children dying from measles has been cut by 74% in just 10 years but progress must be sustained to prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths.’

Dramatic-fall-in-global-measles-deathsThe remarkable statistic features in a new report on key global health trends, published by the World Health Organization (WHO). In the year 2000, more than 477,000 children died from measles but the figure is now less than 114,000.

Of course, it means more than 100,000 children have died from a vaccine-preventable disease so there is no room for complacency.

Still, the report describes measles immunisation as “one of the most remarkable recent public health successes”.

“This achievement is entirely due to a strong campaign to increase global vaccination coverage,” according to the WHO. In 2010, 85% of children aged 12-23 months worldwide were immunised against measles.

The report says that progress in reducing child mortality from infectious diseases can be continued by expanding vaccination programmes against pneumonia and diarrhoeal illnesses.

The WHO praises the rapidly increasing number of countries in the WHO African Region, the WHO Region of the Americas and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region that have introduced pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in the past year with support from the GAVI Alliance.

The report, which gives a comprehensive picture of the state of the world’s health, also highlights the rise in chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

The World Health Assembly – the WHO’s main decision-making body – is currently holding its annual meeting where it is expected to sign off on a new Global Vaccine Action Plan.