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Measles strategy misses targets

Global efforts to cut the number of deaths from measles have fallen short of World Health Organization (WHO) targets.
Measles strategy misses targetsAn analysis published in the Lancet said deaths had fallen by 74% between 2000 and 2010, but the target was 90%.

Outbreaks in Africa and delays in vaccination programmes in India have stalled progress, researchers say.

A new campaign to tackle the disease has been launched, which will combine measles and rubella jabs.

In 2000 there were 535,300 deaths from measles. This fell to 139,300 deaths in 2010, according to the analysis.

The Measles and Rubella Initiative, a collaboration of international organisations including the WHO, said the decline in measles deaths was strong up to 2007, but measures “faltered” in 2008 and 2009.

This lead to outbreaks in Africa, Asia and even Europe.

Africa and India accounted for a combined total 79% of all deaths from measles between 2000 and 2010.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness:

  • Causes a fever, coughing and distinctive red-brown spots on the skin
  • Contracted by breathing in tiny droplets created when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Possible complications include pneumonia, ear and eye infections, and croup
  • Serious complications include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), which can be fatal
  • Infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, premature labour or low birth weights

The next target is a 95% drop in deaths from their 2000 levels by 2015.

The new campaign will see the introduction of a vaccine for both measles and rubella.

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