Global decline in measles offset by regional challenges

The number of measles deaths decreased globally by 71% between 2000 and 2011, according to new data released by WHO headquarters. Over the same period, new cases globally dropped by 58%. The data, published in WHO’s Weekly Epidemiological Record, show that overall progress in reducing deaths is linked largely to increased vaccination coverage.

Despite this global achievement, during 2010–2011 measles incidence increased and large measles outbreaks were reported in several countries, including in the WHO European Region.

Elimination in the Region by 2015

The recent measles outbreaks and the newly released WHO data point to gaps in vaccination coverage, and thus represent a serious challenge to the goal of eliminating measles and rubella in the European Region by 2015. 

To achieve elimination, political and social commitment is required to strengthen routine immunization programmes and surveillance and to ensure that parents are fully aware of the benefits of immunization and the risks associated with not vaccinating children.