Measles deaths decline in Africa

Nov. 29, 2007 at 7:26 AM
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UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- The Measles Initiative said Thursday it has met the goals set by the United Nations to eradicate the disease in Africa four years ahead of schedule.

The founding members of the initiative -- the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the U.N. Foundation and the World Health Organization -- said it met the 2010 goal set by the United Nations to cut measles deaths in Africa by 90 percent four years early, a press release from the group said Thursday.

The recorded deaths from measles in Africa fell by 91 percent between 2000 and 2006 and 68 percent worldwide.

"This is a major public health success and a tribute to the commitment of countries in the African region," said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general.

The group attributes the decline in measles deaths to the commitment of African governments to employ a measles reduction strategy, which involves the vaccination of children prior to their first birthday and mass vaccination campaigns.

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

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