Vaccine slashes measles

An immunisation drive has slashed measles deaths by 68percent since 2000, health campaigners announced yesterday.

An immunisation drive has slashed measles deaths by 68percent since 2000, health campaigners announced yesterday.

The most dramatic success - a 91percent reduction - was in Africa.

The Measles Initiative said the biggest challenge now was in south Asia, which recorded only a 26percent drop.

An estimated 178000 million people died of measles last year in the region, mainly in India.

Worldwide, measles deaths fell from an estimated 757000 to 242000 between 2000 and last year, said the group - a coalition that includes the American Red Cross, the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the WHO and Unicef.

In a rare public health success story, Africa witnessed a spectacular decline from 396000 to 36000 estimated deaths, as governments implemented an internationally agreed strategy to vaccinate all children against measles before their first birthday and provide a second opportunity for measles vaccination through mass vaccination campaigns.

"The clear message from this achievement is that the strategy works," said CDC director, Dr Julie Gerberding.

"The next step is to fully implement this strategy in south Asia where measles is highest". - Sapa-AP

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