WHO Reports Significant Decrease In Measles Deaths Over Past Decade But Warns Large Outbreaks In Certain Regions Threaten Progress

“While the number of measles deaths around the world has significantly decreased over the past decade, large outbreaks in certain regions are jeopardizing progress, the United Nations health agency said [Thursday], adding that improved vaccination rates are critical to eliminate the disease,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Between 2000 and 2011, measles deaths dropped from 542,000 to 158,000 globally, representing a 71 percent decrease,” the news service writes, adding, “New cases also dropped during the same period by 58 percent, according to new data” from the WHO (1/17).

“The highly contagious disease is a leading cause of death among young children around the world, especially the poor, malnourished and unvaccinated, it said,” Reuters notes (Nebehay, 1/17). “Despite this global progress, some populations remain unprotected,” according to a WHO press release, which adds, “An estimated 20 million children worldwide did not receive the first dose of vaccine in 2011” (1/17). “More than half live in five countries: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Pakistan,” Reuters notes (1/17).