Parents around the world want their children to have the chance to lead healthy, productive lives. The measles vaccine is an essential public health tool to protect children from this deadly disease so they can make their dreams a reality.
Yet today, the World Health Organization warned that the progress toward reaching measles elimination goals has stalled.
New data shows that we are at a turning point in the fight against measles – governments and civil society organizations need to keep up the momentum if we hope to make this disease a thing of the past.
Here are three key findings from the new report that show why the world needs to step up its collective effort against measles:
1. The number of measles deaths increased from an estimated 122,000 in 2012 to 145,700 in 2013.
Since 2000, the estimated number of measles deaths has been reduced by 75% – far below the target of a 95% reduction in deaths between 2000 and 2015. A decline since 2013 in vaccination coverage has resulted in large and costly outbreaks.
2. There have been a record number of measles outbreaks globally.
An increase in the disease in 2013 was due, in large part, to outbreaks in China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria. These outbreaks have thrown some regions off-track for meeting their 2015 measles elimination goals.
3. The good news: We have the tools to protect children. An estimated 15.6 million measles deaths were prevented through vaccination from 2000 to 2013.
The impact of measles vaccination campaigns is clear. The measles vaccine is one of the most effective and cost-saving global health solutions available. Now is the time to ensure that we don’t let complacency erode this success.
Though the numbers released today provide a cautionary note, it is encouraging to see that many governments around the world have already stepped up and have redoubled efforts to eliminate measles by planning and initiating mass vaccination campaigns. This is a step in the right direction and critical to bringing us closer to stopping measles outbreaks and eventually eliminating the disease entirely.
Measles vaccination has played a vital role in bringing down child mortality rates. We must recommit to improving vaccination coverage so that we can prevent children around the world from dying of this preventable disease.