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Pan Afr Med J. 2017 Jun 21;27(Suppl 3):11. doi: 10.11604/pamj.supp.2017.27.3.12553. eCollection 2017.

Challenges to global measles eradication: is it all in the timing?

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American Red Cross, PO Box 41275-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.
African Field Epidemiology Network, Lugogo House, Plot 42, Lugogo By-pass, P.O. Box 12874 Kampala, Uganda.


The case for global eradication of measles was first made in 1982. Since then, technical aspects of measles eradication have concluded that measles satisfied all criteria required for eradication. To date, only smallpox, among human diseases, has been eradicated, with polio, the next eradication candidate. In all previous eradication programmes, the pattern of slow implementation and missed deadlines is similar. Lessons from these past eradication programs should inform development of a time-limited measles eradication program. Notably, no measles eradication resolution is likely until member states are satisfied that polio eradication is accomplished. However, there is an impetus for measles eradication from the western hemisphere, where governments continue to pay the high costs of keeping their region measles free until global measles eradication is achieved. While previous vaccine preventable diseases eradications have depended on supplemental immunizations (SIAs), measles eradication will have to build both on SIAs and routine immunization systems strengthening. This article reviews non-technical considerations that could facilitate the delivery of a time-limited measles eradication initiative. The issues discussed are categorized as a) specificities of measles disease; b) specifics of measles vaccine/vaccination; c) special considerations for endemic countries and d) organization of international partnerships. The disease and vaccine specific issues are not insurmountable. The introduction of routine measles second dose, in the context of EPI systems strengthening, is paramount to endemic developing countries. In the international partnerships, it should be noted that i) Measles eradication will be easier and cheaper; ii) the return on investment is compelling; iii) leverage is feasible on the experiences of the Measles/Rubella initiative; iv) two disease eradication targets in one initiative are feasible and v) for the first time, an eradication investment case will inform the decisions. However, if previous eradication efforts have been marathons, measles eradication will need to be a sprint.


Global measles eradication; Uganda; timing

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