Measles Deaths Drop 74 Pct Worldwide: WHO

by VR Sreeraman on Dec 5 2008 5:26 PM

The number of deaths caused by measles dropped 74 percent in the past seven years worldwide, thanks to dramatic progress in Africa and nations including Afghanistan and Pakistan, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The number of deaths dropped by half a million between 2000 and 2007, from an estimated 750,000 to 197,000, the WHO said.

Two-thirds of the global reduction took place in Africa, where the number of deaths dropped by 89 percent, it said.

The number of deaths in the eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan, dropped by 90 percent during the same period, from 96,000 to 10,000.

Progress was more limited in ths South-East Asia region where mortality dropped by a modest 42 percent due to the late launch of a large-scale vaccination campaign in India, where two-thirds of global measles deaths occur.

Measles is a highly contagious disease characterised by high fever and the eruption of small red spots, which kills about one person for every 1,000 infections.