The Measles Initiative: moving toward measles eradication.J Infect Dis 2011; 204 Suppl 1:S14-7JI
The World Health Assembly should establish a target date for measles eradication based on continued progress toward existing mortality reduction goals. We have a safe, effective, and inexpensive vaccine; a proven elimination strategy; high country demand; and an effective global partnership. Since it was founded in 2001, the Measles Initiative has supported the vaccination of >900 million children in supplementary immunization activities. Largely as a result, global measles deaths decreased by 78% between 2000 and 2008, averting an estimated 4.3 million deaths. The Measles Initiative has exceeded its targets and evolved to address increasingly ambitious goals. The current challenges include a decline in funding and weak routine immunization systems in some countries. Skeptics of measles eradication raise 3 main objections: the yet-to-be-achieved polio eradication goal, the high cost, and the impact on health systems. These are important concerns that can be addressed with judicious program planning. All 6 World Health Organization regions have committed to measles elimination, and 5 have set a target date. The World Health Assembly has endorsed interim targets toward eradication, and an independent global measles advisory group has determined measles can and should be eradicated. A target date for eradication will focus efforts and capitalize on the achievements of the last decade.