Measles affects over 30 million children despite cheap vaccine UN agencies say

All measles deaths are preventable using the comprehensive strategy that provides children with two opportunities for immunization, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).The agencies said the first opportunity is given at nine months of age through the country’s routine immunization delivery system, and a second opportunity is provided through supplementary immunization activities conducted every three to four years to ensure that every child is protected.WHO and UNICEF said a dose of measles vaccine costs a mere 25 cents, including safe injection equipment, giving measles immunization one of the highest health returns for money spent. The high effectiveness of this regimen has already been witnessed in a number of southern African countries, including Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.If implemented correctly, the strategy could prevent a further 2.3 million child deaths in Africa over the next 10 years, markedly reducing the death toll from measles on the continent. Of all the vaccine-preventable diseases, measles remains the leading killer of children – more than half of them in Africa.The agencies estimate that an additional $200 million will be required to implement the comprehensive measles strategy over the next three years in the 45 priority countries that account for about 95 per cent of total deaths.