London: Measles mortality has declined by 74 per cent worldwide in the past decade, but it still remains a major concern in India which accounted for 47 per cent of all measles-related deaths in 2010. And poor vaccine coverage is said to be the main reason behind India`s failure to tackle the disease, according to a report published in The Lancet today. In 2008, all the World Health Organisation (WHO) member states had endorsed a target of reducing measles mortality by 90 per cent by 2010 compared to levels in 2000. But a new study, conducted by WHO, Penn State University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, showed that estimated measles mortality in the world decreased from 5,35,300 deaths in 2000 to 1,39,300 in 2010 -- a decline by 74 per cent. However, India accounted for 29,808, or 47 per cent, of the global measles deaths in 2010, the study found. The death rate in India is even higher than that recorded in African countries. While Africa accounted for 36 per cent global measles deaths in 2010, Southeast Asia, excluding India, accounted for eight per cent, the Eastern Mediterranean Region seven per cent, the Western Pacific Region two per cent, and the Americas and Europe less than one per cent each. The authors, led by Dr Peter Strebel of WHO`s Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals, suggested that India`s relatively low measles vaccine coverage is the reason why measles remains a major cause of death in the country. With only 74 per cent coverage, the country lags behind even Africa, which is on 76 per cent, they said.
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