MEASLES MORTALITY REDUCTION AND REGIONAL GLOBAL MEASLES
WHAT IS THE PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE?
Measles caused an estimated 197,000 deaths worldwide in 2007 and is a leading cause of childhood deaths
from a disease for which there is a widely available vaccine. From 1989 to 1991, a measles outbreak
affected more than 55,000 Americans, resulting in 123 deaths. The United States remains at risk of
importation of measles from coun¬tries that have not yet eliminated the disease. A total of 140 confirmed
measles cases were reported in the United States in 2008 (the most cases since 1996), all of which were
either imported or import-related.
WHAT HAS CDC ACCOMPLISHED?
In 2001, CDC, the American Red Cross, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the
United Nations Foundation became spearheading partners of the Measles Initiative, a partnership
committed to reducing measles deaths globally. The Initiative is focused on meeting the United Nation’s
goal of reducing measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010 compared with 2000 figures. In November 2008,
WHO announced that global measles deaths had dropped from 750,000 in 2000 to 197,000 in 2007, a
reduction of 74 percent During this period, measles deaths in Africa dropped by 89 percent from an
estimated 396,000 to 45,000 deaths.
From FY 2001 to 2009, CDC contributed more than $345 million for global measles control activities.
These funds were used for the purchase of tens of millions of doses of measles vaccine for use in large-
scale measles vaccination campaigns in more than 60 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, and for the
provision of technical support to Ministries of Health in those countries. An estimated 3.6 million measles
deaths were prevented as a result of the large-scale measles vaccination campaigns and improvements in
routine immunization during these years.
Since November 2002, measles is no longer an endemic disease in the Americas, demonstrating the
effectiveness of current control strategies in a large geographic area. In 2008, there were only 204
confirmed measles cases reported in the Western Hemisphere. These cases oc¬curred mainly in the
United States and Canada, with all cases related to importations from endemic countries outside of the
Example of Program in Action: CDC provides epidemiologic and laboratory assistance for disease
tracking, vaccines for outbreak control and other supplementary immunization activities, and assignments
of CDC scientific staff to priority countries. In early 2009, a measles outbreak occurred in Burkina Faso,
with more than 27,000 reported suspected cases, including 202 reported measles-associated deaths (data
as of May 1, 2009). Working with partners, CDC conducted an outbreak investigation in early May to
determine the scope of the outbreak and recommend appropriate outbreak response activities.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS
In 2009, CDC and its partners will continue to apply current measles control strategies to maintain
elimination of measles in the Western Hemisphere. CDC will promote PAHO strategies in Africa and other regions to
reduce mortality from measles and to stop endemic measles transmission in WHO regions with a measles
This document can be found on the cdc website at:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncird/progbriefs/downloads/global-measles-elim.pdf May 2009