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Global Healthbeat: Good News from Africa - Measles Deaths Decline

Six years ago, 2001, The Measles Initiative was launched to reduce the number of deaths by measles. In 5 years time, 360 million children around the world were vaccinated and measles deaths in Africa subsequently plunged by 74%. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that death due to measles in Africa have declined by 91%. 478 million children aged 9 months to 14 years have now been vaccinated. The Initiative now plans to move expand its efforts into Southeast Asia, where there were 178,000 measles related deaths in 2006. 600 children under age 5 die from measles each day.

Some countries are integrating the measles vaccination efforts with other child survival initiatives:
        • Vitamin A
        • Polio vaccine
        • De-worming medicine
        • Insecticide-treated bed nets for malaria prevention (21 million beds were distributed in 2006)
Measles has been practically eradicated in the Americas, so even clinicians have no direct experience with the disease. It is a highly contagious viral illness spread by droplets from coughing and sneezing. Symptoms are similar to most viral illnesses - sore throat, runny nose, cough, myalgias, fever. Distinguishing features are the red, itchy rash that appears and may last up to week, sensitivity to light, bloodshot eyes, and white spots inside the mouth. Supportive care, bed rest, fluids, supplementation with vitamin A and anti-viral medications are the only treatment. Complications can include secondary infections such as pneumonia, encephalitis, otitis, bronchitis. Immunization is recommended for all children.

Thank you Teseum for use of photo Looks.
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