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MEASLES deaths fell by 78percent worldwide over the past eight years, but global immunisation experts warn of a possible resurgence if vaccination efforts are not sustained.
Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: "Despite impressive progress globally, more than 400 children die every day from this completely preventable infection.
"Measles can make a rapid comeback if we don't continue to make progress. We saw this happen in the United States between 1989 and 1991, when an estimated 55000 measles cases and more than 130 deaths occurred."
Measles is among the world's most contagious diseases and one of the leading causes of death among children worldwide.
Even healthy and well-nourished children, if unvaccinated, are at risk of the disease and its severe health complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and encephalitis. The vast majority of measles deaths occur in developing countries.
"So much has been achieved over the past several years thanks to the hard work and the commitment of national governments and donors. But with just over a year to the United Nations goal of reducing measles mortality, there are signs of stalling momentum," said Margaret Chan, WHO director-general.
Kathy Calvin, chief executive officer for the UN Foundation, echoed Frieden's sentiments.
She said: "Measles is a highly contagious disease that can quickly take advantage of any lapse in effort. We are poised to vaccinate more children than ever in 2010.
"Next year some of the most populous countries, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria and Ethiopia, are planning national immunisation campaigns.
"We are looking at a pivotal year for measles vaccination and the financial commitments haven't kept up with the demand."
The Measles Initiative is facing a funding gap of R443million for 2010.
If ignored this resource gap could allow for a resurgence of measles deaths, estimated at 1,7million deaths between 2010 and 2013, with 500000 occurring in 2013 alone.