World Health Organisation members adopted an ambitious plan against measles in a bid to prevent the resurgence of the disease which could kill up to 500,000 people a year by 2012, a WHO expert said Friday.
"Starting in 2008, there has been a considerable decline in funding and political commitment for measles control that has resulted in the stagnation of progress," said Peter Strebel, medical officer of the WHO's department of immunization, vaccines and biologicals.
As a result, the disease is "making a rapid comeback" with large outbreaks across Africa as well as in parts of Asia and Europe.
"More alarmingly, WHO estimates that the combined effect of decreased financial and political commitment could result in a return to over 500,000 measles deaths a year by 2012, wiping out the gains made over the past 18 years," added Strebel.
In a bid to prevent the resurgence, the 193 member states of the WHO meeting this week in Geneva adopted a series of targets for 2015 aimed at cutting measles cases to less than five per million persons as well as reducing mortality by 95 percent from its 2000 levels.
It also aims at achieving at least 90 percent of measles vaccination coverage nationally.
An earlier goal set by the WHO had targeted a cut in measles mortality by 90 percent from 2000 by 2010. It said in December 2009 that all regions except one managed to achieve the goal.