A news release: WHO warns that progress towards eliminating measles has stalled. Excerpt:
WHO warned today that progress towards the elimination of measles has stalled. The number of deaths from measles increased from an estimated 122 000 in 2012 to 145 700 in 2013, according to new data published in the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Report and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The estimated number of measles deaths in 2013 represents a 75% decline in mortality since 2000, significantly below the target of a 95% reduction in deaths between 2000 and 2015.
“Poor progress in increasing measles vaccination coverage has resulted in large outbreaks of this highly contagious disease, throwing the 2015 elimination targets off-track,” said Dr Peter Strebel from the WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals.
Member States of all 6 WHO Regions have set goals for measles elimination. “Countries urgently need to prioritize maintaining and improving immunization coverage. Failure to reverse this alarming trend could jeopardize the momentum generated by a decade of achievements in reducing measles mortality,” said Dr Strebel.
Meeting these goals on time is one of the 6 goals of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, endorsed by all Member States at the World Health Assembly in 2012. Despite being vaccine-preventable, measles is still an important cause of death and disability among children worldwide. Strong efforts are needed to maintain the current level of control and to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths.
WHO and its partners in the Measles & Rubella Initiative have been warning for a number of years that the disease has the potential to rebound if vaccination and surveillance efforts are not maintained and strengthened.