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Despite the widespread availability of measles vaccine for nearly 40 years, measles remains a major cause of childhood mortality. There were an estimated 30-40 million cases of measles in 2000, causing some 777 000 deaths. Measles thus accounts for nearly one-half of the 1.7 million annual deaths due to childhood vaccine-preventable diseases (Fig. 1). Measles remains a leading cause of childhood mortality worldwide, accounting for 5% of all deaths among children aged [less than] 5 years.
Fig. 1 Causes of vaccine-preventable deaths among children [less than] 15 years, 2000[a] Haemophilus influenzae type b 26% Neonatal tetanus 11.0% Diphtheria 0.2% Pertussis 17.0% Poliomyelitis 0.0% Measles 44% Yellow fever 2.0% [a] Total: 1 756 350.  Part II will appear in No. 8 on 22 February 2002. Note: Table made from a pie chart.
In 2001, WHO and UNICEF developed a Global Measles Strategic Plan 2001-2005, together with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and numerous experts worldwide, and in coordination with several other partners. The objectives of the plan include: (i) to halve the annual number of measles deaths by 2005; (ii) to achieve and maintain interruption of indigenous measles transmission in large geographical areas with established elimination goals (the Region of the Americas by 2000 (nearly achieved), the European Region by 2007, and the Eastern Mediterranean Region by 2010); and (iii) to convene a global consultation in 2005, in collaboration with other major partners, to review progress and assess the feasibility of global measles eradication.
Four complementary strategies are required to achieve sustainable measles mortality reduction:
(1) Provide the first dose of measles …