GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Measles deaths worldwide fell by 78 percent 2000-08, but 450 deaths a day are still too many, World Health Organization officials in Switzerland said.
Measles deaths dropped an estimated 733,000 in 2000 to 164,000 in 2008, but global immunization experts warn of a resurgence in measles deaths if vaccination efforts are not sustained because of funding cuts, Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF executive director said.
Veneman said all regions, with the exception of one, have achieved the U.N. goal of reducing measles mortality by 90 percent 2000-10, two years ahead of the target. Vaccinating nearly 700 million children against measles has prevented an estimated 4.3 million measles deaths in less than a decade, Veneman said.
The one region that may not reach its goal is southern Asia -- India, Indonesia and Bangladesh -- where measles deaths declined only 46 percent 2000-08.
"Three out of four children who died from measles in 2008 were in India," Veneman said in a statement.
Next year, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria and Ethiopia are planning national immunization campaigns, Veneman added.
However, the Measles Initiative is tackling a funding gap of $59 million for 2010. If unaddressed, this resource gap could allow for a resurgence of measles deaths, WHO officials said.