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Measles Deaths Down 91% in Africa

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  • Bill Bryant
    Measles deaths down 91 percent in Africa By CLARE NULLIS, Associated Press Writer Thu Nov 29, 2007 Africa has slashed deaths from measles by 91 percent since
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2007
      Measles deaths down 91 percent in Africa
      By CLARE NULLIS, Associated Press Writer
      Thu Nov 29, 2007
       
      Africa has slashed deaths from measles by 91 percent since 2000 with an immunization drive, a rare success story for the continent, health officials said Thursday.
       
      Measles deaths worldwide have fallen from an estimated 757,000 to 242,000 — 68 percent — between 2000 and 2006, according to the Measles Initiative, which includes the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
       
      In Africa, the deaths dropped from 396,000 to 36,000.
       
      The Measles initiative vaccinates children between nine months and 14 years old and seeks to vaccinate infants before their first birthday. Trained volunteers reach remote areas on bicycles, horses and even camels, and provide other basic health services including distributing nets for malaria prevention, said Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chairman of the board of the American Red Cross.
       
      "The clear message from this achievement is that the strategy works," said CDC Director Julie Gerberding.
       
      The Measles Initiative hoped to take the strategy to India, where the drop deaths has been smaller and an estimated 10.5 million children are not immunized.
       
      Some 178,000 million people died of measles in the Indian subcontinent last year — only 26 percent down from 2000.
       
      Between 2000 and 2006, an estimated 478 million children worldwide received measles vaccines in 46 countries severely affected by the disease. Routine measles vaccination coverage reached an estimated 80 percent last year worldwide.
       
      In September, UNICEF reported that overall number of children dying worldwide has dropped below 10 million a year because of basic measures like vaccines, anti-mosquito nets and vitamin A boosts.
       
      The Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization said Wednesday it had invested $1 billion of new funding into vaccination drives in the past year.
       
      On Thursday, the GAVI board approved programs totaling $537 million for vaccines in 29 of the world's poorest countries. It said $370 million would go to countries immunizing against a type of bacteria that causes severe infections including meningitis and pneumonia and kills an estimated 400,000 children every year.
       
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