In 2016, an estimated 90,000 people died from measles — an 84% drop from more than 550,000 deaths in 2000 — according to a new report published today by leading health organisations. This marks the first time global measles deaths have fallen below 100,000 per year.
“Saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through measles vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime,” says Dr Robert Linkins, of the Measles and Rubella Initiative (MR&I) and Branch Chief of Accelerated Disease Control and Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. M&RI is a partnership formed in 2001 of the American Red Cross, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, and WHO.
Since 2000, an estimated 5.5 billion doses of measles-containing vaccines have been provided to children through routine immunisation services and mass vaccination campaigns, saving an estimated 20.4 million lives.
The world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Coverage with the first of two required doses of measles vaccine has stalled at approximately 85% since 2009, far short of the 95% coverage needed to stop measles infections, and coverage with the second dose, despite recent increases, was only 64% in 2016.
Far too many children — 20.8 million — are still missing their first measles vaccine dose. Since it is a highly contagious viral disease, large outbreaks continue to occur in many countries, putting children at risk of severe health complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, encephalitis, blindness, and death.
Source: World Health Organisation