A just published ‘African Renewal’ report has disclosed that according to Measles Initiative “measles death in Africa fell by a dramatic 91% from 2000 to 2006.”
The drop in moralities in Africa from 396,000 to 36,000 contributed greatly to an overall in measles deaths worldwide, from 757,000 to 242,000 over the same period.
“Most of the remaining deaths, about 178,000, are now in southern Asia,” the report states.
“The dramatic drop in measles deaths in Africa and the strong progress made worldwide are a testament to the power of strong partnerships and the impact they can have on child survival,” says UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Ann Veneman.
The Measles Initiative, run jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the American Red Cross, the UN Foundation and the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), oversaw mass vaccination campaigns in the 46 countries most affected by the disease. Thirty-one of those countries were in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 478 million children aged 9 months to 14 years received the measles vaccine.
“We literally [want] door-to-door informing, educating and motivating mothers and caregivers about the critical need to vaccinate their children,” explains Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chair of the American Red Cross. “these mobilization efforts [were] essential to our success.”
WHO Director Margaret Chan calls the progress in Africa “a major public health success” and “a tribute to the commitment to countries in the region.”
Dr. Chan adds: “we need to sustain this success and intensify our efforts in other parts of the world, as there are still far too many lives lost to this disease.”