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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003 May 23;52(20):471-5.

Update: global measles control and mortality reduction--worldwide, 1991-2001.


Despite international recognition of the high burden of disease associated with measles and the existence for 40 years of a safe, effective, and inexpensive vaccine, measles remains the leading cause of vaccine-preventable childhood mortality. In 1990, the World Summit for Children adopted a goal of vaccinating 90% of the world's children against measles by 2000 (1). In 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) developed the Global Measles Strategic Plan for 2001-2005. The plan's objectives are 1) to decrease the annual number of measles deaths by 50% by 2005 compared with 1999 levels (875,000 deaths), 2) to achieve and maintain interruption of indigenous measles transmission in large geographic areas with elimination goals, and 3) to convene a global consultation in 2005 to review progress and assess the feasibility of global measles eradication. In May 2002, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children also resolved to reduce measles deaths by 50% by 2005 compared with 1999 levels. This report describes progress toward eliminating measles worldwide. Data from WHO's Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project indicate that approximately 1.7 million vaccine-preventable childhood deaths occurred in 2000, of which 777,000 (46%) were attributed to measles. The measles deaths occurred overwhelmingly among children living in poor countries with inadequate vaccination services. To prevent these deaths, stronger political commitment is needed to provide all children worldwide with two opportunities for measles immunization.

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