New global strategy to reduce measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, with partners in the renamed Measles and Rubella Initiative, launched “a new global strategy aimed at reducing measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero.” The announcement was accompanied by new data showing that accelerated efforts have resulted in a 74 per cent reduction in global measles mortality, from an estimated 535,000 deaths in 2000, to 139,000 in 2010. UNICEF noted that through increased routine immunization coverage and large-scale immunization campaigns, Africa made the most progress with an 85 per cent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010. [see The Lancet – Online First content below in Journal Watch] The new strategy is focused on “…cutting global measles deaths by at least 95 per cent by 2015 compared with 2000 levels, and achieving measles and rubella elimination in at least five World Health Organization (WHO) regions by 2020. The strategy includes: high vaccination coverage; monitoring spread of disease using laboratory-backed surveillance; outbreak preparedness and response and measles case management; communication and community engagement; and research and development.”

UNICEF said that under the new strategy, 63 countries currently not using rubella vaccines are encouraged to use their measles vaccination delivery system to introduce rubella vaccines into their national immunization schedule, protecting children against both diseases with one combined shot. Founded originally as the Measles Initiative in 2001, the new Measles and Rubella Initiative is led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF and WHO.

25 April 2012

The WHO coverage of this announcement included links to the following content:


Measles mortality news release
24 April 2012

European countries must take action now to prevent continued measles outbreaks in 2012
2 December 2011

The Measles Initiative vaccinates one billion children in first decade
4 August 2011

Strategic plan

Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan 2012-2020
pdf, 1.39Mb

Press Conference Materials

April 2012