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Measles Vaccines Helped Save 17 Million Lives Since 2000, but Progress Stalled: WHO

by Dr. Trupti Shirole on November 13, 2015 at 7:07 PM
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 Measles Vaccines Helped Save 17 Million Lives Since 2000, but Progress Stalled: WHO

Measles is a highly contagious disease that causes a rash and fever. It can lead to complications ranging from brain damage to hearing loss and blindness. In rare cases, it can result in death. Measles remains common in many developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia, and more than 95% of all measles deaths happen in poor countries with weak health infrastructure.

There have also been measles outbreaks in the United States and Europe in recent years. Many people who do not vaccinate their children saying that they fear a triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella is responsible for increasing cases of autism, a theory repeatedly disproven by various studies.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that the measles vaccines have saved more than 17 million lives in the past 15 years. The UN health agency reported that the number of measles-related deaths have plunged nearly 80% since the turn of the century, falling from 546,800 in 2000 to 114,900 in 2014.

The WHO said, "It estimated that 17.1 million lives had been saved since 2000, largely due to increased vaccination coverage. During the first decade of the millennium, coverage with the first dose of the measles vaccine rose globally from 72-85%. Since 2010, the coverage rate has remained unchanged."
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WHO recommends two doses of the measles vaccine. Jean-Mari Okwo-Bele, head of WHO's immunization and vaccines division, said, "We cannot afford to drop our guard. If children miss routine vaccination and are not reached by national immunization campaigns, we will not close the immunization gap."

Last year, 221 million children around the globe received the measles shot. But these efforts do not go far enough, insisted Robert Linkins of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He said, "Globally, over 100,000 children needlessly died from measles last year. That's a tragedy which can be easily prevented if we intensify our measles surveillance and vaccination efforts."

Source: AFP
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