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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686


QUADROS, Ciro A. de. Can measles be eradicated globally?. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2004, vol.82, n.2, pp.134-138. ISSN 0042-9686.

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases. Before measles vaccine was introduced, nearly everyone contracted the disease at some point in childhood. By the late 1980s, most countries had incorporated measles vaccine into their routine immunization programmes. Globally, about 800 000 children nevertheless still die from measles annually, half of them in Africa. Eradicating measles would therefore play an important role in improving children's survival. The 24th Pan American Sanitary Conference in 1994 established a goal of eradicating measles from the Americas. Progress to date has been remarkable and the disease is no longer endemic in the Americas, with most countries having documented interruption of transmission. As of November 2003, 12 months had elapsed since the last indigenous case was detected in Venezuela. This experience shows that measles transmission can be interrupted, and that this can be sustained over a long period of time. Global eradication is feasible if an appropriate strategy is implemented. Even under a new paradigm in which immunization is not discontinued after measles is eradicated, eradication will be a good investment to avoid expensive epidemics and save the lives of almost one million children annually. A world free of measles by 2015 is not a dream.

Keywords : Measles [prevention and control]; Measles [transmission]; Measles [epidemiology]; Immunization programs [organization and administration]; Measles vaccine; Disease transmission [prevention and control]; Americas.

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