Magazine article UN Chronicle

Where a Child Dies Each Minute

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Where a Child Dies Each Minute

Article excerpt

Every minute, a child dies of measles in Africa. Although the Western Hemisphere has essentially eliminated measles cases and deaths, with 450,000 children dying from the disease every year on the continent, measles causes more children's deaths than HIV, tuberculosis or malaria.

And yet, every measles death can be prevented with a simple vaccination costing less than one dollar per child.

As part of the global effort to reduce child mortality, a new public-private partnership has been formed to prevent measles deaths in Africa--the measles Initiative, a long term campaign committed to vaccinating approximately 200 million children at risk throughout Africa. Through both supplemental and follow-up campaigns in over 30 sub-Saharan countries, an estimated 1.2 million deaths will be prevented, bringing measles deaths in the region to near zero by 2005.

The initiative is a United States-based partnership, bringing together the technical expertise, experience and strength of the United Nations Foundation, the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children;s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Through the Initiative, the UN Foundation provides funding and financial mechanisms to move needed funds to the African countries; UNICEF provides vaccines and supports social mobilization activities; and WHO helps design the policies and health guidelines tailored for each country to ensure that proper, safe steps are taken during immunization campaigns.

Before the measles vaccine became available in 1962, virtually all children contracted the disease, and an estimated 135 million cases and about 7 million to 8 million deaths occurred globally each year.

However, by 1998 approximately 82 per cent of the world's children under the age of one were reported to have received the measles vaccine, preventing an estimated 2 million deaths. …

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