WHO calls for renewed commitment, funding for measles control

16:24, May 22, 2010      

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The World Health Organization on Friday urged governments to renew political commitment and increase funding to control the rapid comeback of measles, particularly in Africa.

Due to a considerable decline in funding and political commitment since 2008, progress in measles control has stagnated, said Peter Strebel of the WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.

"Being one of the most contagious diseases, measles is making a rapid comeback," he told a news briefing during the WHO's annual assembly.

According to WHO statistics, worldwide measles deaths among children under five years of age dropped by 89 percent between 1990 and 2008.

However, Strebel said, from the start of 2009 to May 2010, large-scale measles outbreaks were reported in some 30 African countries, notably Chad, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The epidemic has resulted in over 1,100 deaths and more than 64,000 cases of infections in the past year.

He added that measles outbreaks were also reported in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as in European countries such as Britain and Bulgaria.

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