Measles deaths halved by international initiative

The WHO and UNICEF announced today that The Measles Initiative has halved measles deaths.

Global deaths due to measles fell by 48%, from 871 000 in 1999 to an estimated 454 000 in 2004, thanks to major national immunization activities and better access to routine childhood immunization …

The largest reduction occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest burden of the disease, where estimated measles cases and deaths dropped by 60%.

Tell that to people who say that aid does not work.

2 thoughts on “Measles deaths halved by international initiative”

  1. The decline in measles deaths is great news.  Keep in mind though that this doesn’t imply the same decline in all cause child mortality.    Many of the children that didn’t die from measles – went on to die from something else. (e.g. malaria). 
    The only point I’m making is that increased attention and resources flowing toward immunization and vaccines – is seriously diminished in impact by focusing on immunization programs and forgetting the much more complicated problem of improving the functioning of the health system through which immunizations (and everything else) must flow. 
    If you take a look at health development assistance – you’ll see far too little focuses on the systems.  And, I believe, has much less effect for that reason.  If health systems dysfunction were declared a disease – and received resources commensurate with the excess mortality and morbidity it generates – the external resources flowing to improve health in developing countries would have much greater impact.

  2. April

    Thanks.  I agree that investment in health systems is a fundamental component of any strategy to reduce child mortality, including vaccination.  One of the attractive features of vaccination is that it requires less health system capacity than some other interventions – for example, because it does not require skilled diagnosis – but investments are needed including cold-chain logistics, training, clinics, public awareness, economic management and so on.

    I have been very impressed at the way that GAVI has used its resources to help build capacity for immunization as well as buying vaccines.   The IFF for Immunization that the UK government has championed will help developing countries to make long term investments, both by enabling spending to be programmed over time and by enabling up-front health systems investments to be made immediately. 

    Owen 

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