|Global partners launch new plan to control and eliminate measles and rubella|
Increasing measles outbreaks prove need to bolster investment and political commitment to reach global goals
24 April 2012 | Atlanta | Geneva | New York | Washington, D.C - Today, the partners leading efforts to control measles announce a new global strategy aimed at reducing measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero.
The announcement comes with the publication of new data using a state-of-the-art methodology showing that accelerated efforts to reduce measles deaths have resulted in a 74% reduction in global measles mortality, from an estimated 535 300 deaths in 2000 to 139 300 in 2010.
Progress in sub-Saharan Africa
Vaccinating over a billion children
“A three-quarters drop in measles deaths worldwide shows just how effective well-run vaccination programmes can be,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization . “Now we need to take the next logical step and vaccinate children against rubella, too.”
Investment and political commitment are critical
These outbreaks combined with a delayed start in intensifying measles control in India, meant that the goal of 90% reduction in measles mortality by end 2010 compared with 2000 levels was not met. India accounted for about 47% of global measles deaths in 2010. In addition, target dates for measles elimination goals in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean and European regions had to be revised.
“Recent measles outbreaks have affected children in the world unevenly, with the poorest and youngest children the most at risk of death or disability,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “This new Strategic Plan stresses that measles and rubella vaccinations must be delivered to children deep in the poorest and hardest to reach communities.”
Strategic Plan to cut deaths
“Measles continues to kill children around the world and rubella is the leading infectious cause of congenital malformations in newborn infants; these are avoidable tragedies,” says Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, CDC Director. “This new plan outlines strategies we know work. It is time to partner with key countries to implement the plan in order to save our children from these terrible diseases.”
Under the new strategy, 62 countries currently not using rubella vaccine are encouraged to use their measles vaccination delivery system to introduce rubella vaccine into their national immunization schedule and protect families against both diseases with one combined shot . Many high-income countries already offer routine immunization for both measles and rubella through the use of combined measles-rubella or measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.
Millions of volunteers join the combat
The newly-renamed Measles & Rubella Initiative has strong support from GAVI and is welcoming new partners including the American Academy of Pediatrics, International Pediatric Association, Lions Clubs International and Sabin Vaccine Institute.
Financial support for the vaccine
“We’re delighted to strengthen our partnership with the renamed Measles & Rubella Initiative, which has done great work to reduce measles infections and reduce mortality,” GAVI CEO, Dr Seth Berkley MD, said. “With GAVI’s US$ 605 million investment for both the combined MR and measles second dose vaccines in developing countries, this is an historic moment for the reduction and hopefully eventual elimination of both diseases,” he said.
US$ 112 million still needed
The release of the new measles mortality data and the Strategic Plan coincides with WHO’s World Immunization Week, with over 180 countries worldwide rolling out various activities to raise awareness and take action on the importance of immunization.
About measles and rubella
Rubella, transmitted through airborne droplets, is generally a mild illness. But when a pregnant woman becomes infected, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy, serious consequences can occur including miscarriages, still births, and infants born with birth defects known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). The most common congenital defects include lifelong heart problems, deafness or blindness (cataracts). An estimated 112 000 cases of CRS occur each year and are preventable through vaccination.
Measles & Rubella Initiative
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