September 24, 2009

Measles at all-time low in African region

Following vaccination programs, reported measles cases decreased to a historic low of 32,278 in 2008 in Africa, government health officials said.

However, measles outbreaks continue to occur in the World Health Organization African region, suggesting continued efforts are needed to fully implement the recommended strategies in order to sustain recent gains, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report said Thursday.

In 2001, the countries of the WHO African Region became part of a global initiative with a goal of reducing measles deaths by 50 percent -- which was achieved by 2005 -- and a new goal of 90 percent mortality reduction by 2010 was adopted, the report said.

During 2001-2008, routine measles vaccination coverage increased from 57 percent to 73 percent, approximately 400 million children received measles vaccination during campaigns, and reported measles cases decreased to a historic low of 32,278 in 2008, the report said.

By 2006, estimated number of measles deaths in the African region declined by approximately 90 percent, compared to 2000 estimates.

However, inaccuracies in reported vaccination coverage exist, surveillance remains suboptimal, and measles outbreaks continue to occur, health officials said.