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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686

Bull World Health Organ vol.82 n.5 Genebra May. 2004 



Measles death toll drops



WHO and the United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced a global reduction of 30% in deaths from measles between 1999 and 2002. In Africa, the region with the highest number of people affected by the disease, the reduction in measles deaths was 35%.

In 1999, some 869 000 people — mostly children — died of measles. In 2002, this figure had dropped to an estimated 610 000 people. According to WHO, the progress indicates that countries can achieve the UN goals of halving global measles deaths by the end of 2005.

Recent progress is due to the adoption by the most affected countries of the comprehensive WHO/UNICEF strategy for sustainable measles mortality reduction. At a WHO/UNICEF meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2003, Ministry of Health representatives from 45 high-burden countries agreed that this strategy was highly effective in reducing measles deaths.

The estimated annual cost for measles mortality reduction activities in the 45 high burden countries is approximately US$ 140 million.