With intervention by the Measles & Rubella Initiative and commitment from governments around the world, global measles deaths worldwide fell by 74 percent between 2000 and 2010, from an estimated 535,000 to 139,300.
The Eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and 16 other countries, has seen measles deaths drop by 93 percent from 2000-2008. With this sustained accomplishment, the region met the United Nations’ goal to reduce measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010, three years early (2007).
The significant decline in measles deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean region was the result of intensified vaccination campaigns including several countries with hard-to-reach areas. In 2007, health workers immunized more than twice the number of children in campaigns than the previous year.
In the African region, measles deaths decreased an estimated 85 percent between 2000 and 2010. However, a number of countries experienced outbreaks in 2008 because of gaps in immunization coverage—both with the first dose delivered through routine immunization services as well as children missed during campaigns. The risk of resurgence of disease in Africa is great, reinforcing the importance of timely campaigns and stronger immunization services.
The progress in Southeast Asia has been limited. With a 46 percent decline in measles deaths, hundreds of children are still being infected by this disease every day.
In 2008, an estimated three out four measles deaths occurred in India – the only priority country yet to implement the comprehensive measles mortality reduction strategy. The goal of reducing measles deaths worldwide by 90 percent is dependent on the Indian government taking action. The Ministry of Health has shared plans for campaigns in 2010, and the Measles Initiative has offered both technical and financial support.