Measles eradication still a challenge despite drop in deaths: WHO

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Measles vaccination

Although the number of people dying from measles has declined over the past decade, progress to eliminate the disease remains stalled in some regions, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

WHO statistics show measles deaths dropped 71 per cent between 2000 and 2011, while new cases fell by nearly 60 per cent during that same period.

Measles is a major child killer and to achieve eradication by 2015, the agency recommends children receive two doses of the measles vaccine.

However, WHO estimates that in 2011, 20 million children did not get their first dose.

WHO's Dr Robert Perry says there are numerous reasons why children are not vaccinated.

"We know that in some places there is a hesitancy or a complacency to have children vaccinated. In many countries there are also populations that are not well served by the health system or by routine vaccination systems. And then there are other countries that have problems in really effectively reaching the entire population of the country with their health services because of resource limitations or because of instability in the country." (29 secs)

WHO notes that more than half of the unvaccinated children in 2011 lived in five countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

It adds that all of these countries suffered major measles outbreaks that year.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’35′

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