Deaths from measles in Africa have dropped by 91 per cent — from an estimated 396,000 to 36,000 — between 2000 and 2006, thus achieving the United Nations goal to cut measles deaths by 90 percent four years early, it was announced today.

Africa-led declines helped world measles deaths to fall 68 percent — from 757,000 to 242,000 — also during this period, according the Measles Initiative, which comprises the UN Foundation, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN World Health Organization (WHO), the American Red Cross and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The extraordinary successes in Africa are thanks to national governments’ firm commitment to fully implement the measles reduction strategy, including vaccinating all children before their first birthday and providing a second opportunity to be vaccinated through mass campaigns, the Initiative said.

These campaigns have had a significant impact on reducing measles deaths worldwide. Between 2000 and 2006, some 478 million children between the ages of nine months and 14 years received the vaccine in campaigns in 46 of the 47 priority countries severely impacted by measles.

"The dramatic drop in measles deaths in Africa and the strong progress being made worldwide are a testament to the power of strong partnerships and the impact they can have on child survival," said Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF.

The Initiative urged countries that have put accelerated measles control activities into action must maintain the momentum by continuing to conduct conducting follow-up vaccination activities every two to four years until their routine immunization systems are capable of providing measles vaccination to all children.


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