Measles kills an estimated 450 people every day, and are entirely preventable with immunisation
Before 2001, more than 750,000 children died every year from measles, a highly contagious virus, whose symptoms include a high fever, severe skin rash, and a cough.
In developing countries, measles kills about 5% of children who catch it, though this rate may be as high as 25% among the displaced, malnourished, or those with poor access to health care. By weakening the immune system, measles can also lead to other health problems such as pneumonia, blindness, diarrhoea, and encephalitis.
Measles & Rubella Initiative
Since then, the number of measles deaths has come down significantly, helped by the Measles & Rubella Initiative (formerly known as Measles Initiative), a global partnership committed to ensuring no child dies from measles or is born with congenital rubella syndrome.
According to the Measles & Rubella Initiative, measles still kills an estimated 164,000 people each year – mostly children less than five years of age – or about 450 people every day.
Because it is so contagious, measles remains a significant threat to child health even in those areas where the rates of measles are reduced.
Preventable with immunisation
Measles is entirely preventable with immunisation, using a safe, effective and relatively inexpensive vaccine that has existed for almost half a century.
In 2008, an estimated three out of four measles deaths occurred in India, according to the Measles & Rubella Initiative.
Each child should be reached with two doses of the measles vaccine. The second dose can be given through routine immunisation programmes or Supplementary immunization activities (catch-up campaigns).