In 2016, the number of people who died from measles was 90,000, an 84% drop from the 550,000 deaths that occurred in 2000, according to the latest report published by renowned health organizations. In history, this is the first time that global measles deaths have fallen below 100,000 per year.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused due to a virus. The first vaccine for measles was introduced in 1963 before which major epidemics occurred every 2-3 years taking the lives of around 2.6 million people yearly. It still remains as a leading cause of death among children, worldwide and 2016 witnessed the death of 89,790 people (below the age of five), a number less than 100,000 first time in history.
Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, WHO has taken an oath to eliminate rubella and measles in at least five WHO regions by 2020. Periodic measles vaccination for children along with immunization campaigns are main strategies to reduce the deaths due to measles worldwide. Sadly, measles is commonly prevalent in developing countries, especially Africa and Asia. More than 95% of measles-related deaths happen in countries with low per capita income and improper healthcare.
On the positive note, almost 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccines have been provided to children since 2000, saving around 20.4 million lives. Although there is a great decrease in the number of deaths, WHO’s aim of achieving zero measles cases is yet to be accomplished. This huge decrease in measles-related deaths is due to the hard work and efforts of health workers, governments and development agencies to vaccinate children residing in every nook and corner of the world. Still, too many children, almost 20.8 million to be precise, are missing their first measles vaccination. To overcome these depressing figures and enable vaccination to every child, we need to spread awareness among general public regarding the need of vaccination, encourage health institutions to provide measles vaccination at subsidized prices and recommend governments to establish more free medical camps.
Good nutrition, clean environment, adequate liquid consumption and proper oral-rehydration techniques help to recover faster from measles. Measles vaccine is safe, effective, inexpensive and the best way to protect a child from the deadly disease. Read more on good nutrition and drinking healthy fluids at the website www.firsteatright.com.
Measles in India
India has taken a record-breaking initiative of organizing one of the world’s largest vaccination campaign against measles. This campaign was created with an aim to vaccinate 35 million children in the age group of nine months to 15 years with measles and rubella vaccine. Almost 2.5 million children are affected by measles every year out of which 49,000 of them die. Such campaigns help to decrease the death rates drastically. While there were around 100,000 deaths in 2000, it has decreased by almost 51% to 49,000 in 2015. Decrease in measles-related deaths in India is advantageous globally as India accounts for 37% of worldwide measles deaths.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.