Number of deaths caused by measles has decreased by 71 per cent.
About nine per cent of 20 million children who did not receive the first dose of vaccine against measles in 2011 were Nigerian children, the World Health Organisation, WHO, said in a latest report released on Thursday.
The global organisation said 1.7 million Nigerian children did not receive the first dose of the vaccine in 2011.
WHO recommends that every child should receive two doses of measles vaccine.
Only one country, India (6.7 million) had more children not vaccinated from measles in 2011.
Three other countries joined Nigeria and India to make up half of the 20 million children not vaccinated with the first dose in 2011. They are Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC (0.8 million); Ethiopia (1 million), and Pakistan (0.9 million).
Based on the WHO records, developing countries like Brazil, Pakistan and Indonesia, who have a much larger population, had fewer first dose unvaccinated children than Nigeria in 2011.
Nigeria was also among the countries with the largest outbreak of missiles in 2011, the global health organisation stated. An average of 51 missiles cases were reported daily in Nigeria in 2011 making a total of 18, 843.
The DRC (134, 042) and India (29,339) are few countries with higher reported missile cases than Nigeria. Other countries with high reported cases of measles in 2011 are Ethiopia (3,255 cases), Pakistan (4,386 cases), France (14,949 cases), Italy (5,189 cases), and Spain (3,802 cases).
Decrease in measles deaths
The WHO said the number of deaths by measles globally decreased by 71 per cent between 2000 and 2011, from 542,000 to 158,000.
It said over the same period new cases dropped by 58 per cent from 853,500 in 2000 to 355,000 in 2011.
The report said the WHO Region of the Americas has sustained measles elimination since 2002, and the WHO Western Pacific Region is on track to achieve elimination.
Large outbreaks of measles are jeopardising progress in the remaining regions that have these goals.
The new data, which was published in this week’s edition of the U.S> Center for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and then in WHO’s Weekly Epidemiological Record, showed overall progress in reducing deaths linked largely measles.
It attributed the progress to increased vaccination coverage.
Estimated global coverage with a first dose of vaccine increased from 72 per cent in 2000 to 84 per cent in 2011.
The number of countries providing the second dose through routine services increased from 97 in 2000 to 141 in 2011.
One billion children immunised
Since 2000, with support from the Measles and Rubella Initiative, more than one billion children have been reached through mass vaccination campaigns – some 225 million of them in 2011.
WHO, however, said that in spite of this global progress, some populations, including Nigeria, remain unprotected.
Most of these countries are in WHO regions which have committed to eliminate measles by 2015 or 2020.
WHO said the measles outbreaks pose a serious challenge to the regional elimination efforts and signals where national health systems and routine immunisation programmes need strengthening.
The outbreaks also indicate the need to ensure that parents are fully aware of the benefits of immunisation and the risks associated with not vaccinating children.
Launched in 2001, the Measles Initiative is a partnership – led by the American Red Cross; UN Foundation; U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC; UNICEF; and WHO – committed to reducing measles deaths worldwide.
In April 2012, the partners of the Measles Initiative introduced a new global plan to jointly tackle measles and rubella using the same strategy and a combined measles-rubella vaccine.
This new strategy is represented in its new name, the Measles & Rubella Initiative, with the goal of reducing measles deaths worldwide by 95 per cent by 2015 and to eliminate measles and rubella in at least five of six WHO regions by 2020.
Nigeria through agencies like the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency has been intensifying immunisation efforts in order to reduce diseases like measles and polio among children.