Measles :: Surpassing UN goals, child deaths attributed to measles slashed by 60 per cent

In a major public health victory, children?s measles deaths have fallen by 60 per cent since 1999, exceeding the goals of the United Nations, thanks to a new four-part strategy aimed at preventing the spread of the highly contagious disease, UN agencies and their partners have announced.

?This is an historic victory for global public health, for the power of partnership and for commitment by countries to fight a terrible disease,? UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said.

?Reducing measles deaths by 60 per cent in just six years is an incredible achievement, agreed UN Children?s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman.

The UN?s original goal was to reduce children?s measles death by half, and success in topping this goal has largely been propelled by gains in Africa where such deaths have been curtailed by an overwhelming 75 per cent.

The results were announced today by a consortium aiming to curb measles deaths called the Measles Initiative, comprising UNICEF, WHO, the UN Foundation, the American Red Cross and the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

WHO data shows that deaths due to measles fell worldwide from approximately 873,000 in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005. In Africa, measles deaths have dropped from 506,000 126,000 in the same time period.

?Our promise to cut measles deaths by half and save hundreds of thousands of lives has not only been fulfilled, it has been surpassed in just six years with Africa leading the way,? Dr. Chan asserted.

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