Nearly 300 children die of measles every day in India, various UN agencies claimed Monday arguing that delayed vaccination policies of the country are jeopardising the 2010 global target of reducing measles mortality by 90 percent.
Health watchdogs like Unicef and WHO said despite impressive progress globally, the one region that may jeopardise achieving the 2010 goal is Southeast Asia, which includes heavily populated countries like India, Indonesia and Bangladesh - where measles deaths declined only 46 percent between 2000 and 2008. The global average decline was 78 percent.
Delayed implementation of large-scale vaccination campaigns in India, the country with majority of measles deaths, is largely accountable for this lack of progress, Unicef said.
“Three out of four children who died of measles in 2008 were in India,” Unicef Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said. However, he added that India’s plan to scale up its measles vaccination campaign in many parts of the country is very encouraging.
“Despite impressive progress globally, more than 400 children die every day from this completely preventable infection,” said Thomas R. Frieden, Director, US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Measles can make a rapid comeback if we don't continue to make progress. We saw this happen in the US between 1989 and 1991, when an estimated 55,000 measles cases and more than 130 deaths occurred,” he said.
To eliminate the risk of resurgence, countries must continue follow-up vaccination campaigns every two to four years until their healthcare systems can provide two doses of measles vaccination to all children and provide treatment for the disease.
The measles death worldwide fell by 78 percent between 2000 and 2008, from an estimated 733,000 in 2000 to 164,000 in 2008. However, global immunisation experts warn of a resurgence in measles deaths if vaccination efforts are not sustained.