IAC Home page
Issue Number 82
May 25, 1999
CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE
- CDC and PAHO join forces to eradicate
Back to Top
April 30, 1999
CDC AND PAHO JOIN FORCES TO ERADICATE MEASLES
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pan American Health Organization
(PAHO) have joined forces in the final stages of measles eradication from the Americas.
Commenting on what he says is the "last lap in the race to make measles
history," PAHO Director Dr. George Alleyne said, "The Americas are the only
region in the world to have eliminated polio and are on track to eradicating measles --
which kills 1 million people worldwide each year -- by [the year] 2000."
The entire text of the PAHO press release announcing the approval of the measles
eradication plan follows. (Editors' note: Yes, it's long, but it's exciting news!)
MEASLES ERADICATION PLAN APPROVED
Washington, DC, (PAHO) April 30, 1999
A collaborative effort to eradicate measles from the Americas was approved today in a
meeting at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which agreed to join forces with
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the final stages of measles
eradication. CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan announced that CDC will
provide $8 million to PAHO for the effort.
PAHO and the CDC will undertake a five-year collaborative effort to ensure the successful
completion of the measles eradication target. Countries at risk for measles outbreaks have
been targeted for special efforts, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia,
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. The
CDC funds will be used to hire staff, provide training, strengthen surveillance, improve
communications and laboratory infrastructure, "and evaluate and learn from these
activities," Dr. Koplan said.
The PAHO-CDC partnership, said PAHO Director Dr. George Alleyne, "could be described
as the last lap in the race to make measles history." It "will also be critical
to advance towards the adoption and implementation of a global measles eradication
goal," he said.
Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Director of PAHO's Division of Vaccines and Immunization, said PAHO
"is urging countries to take a pro-active approach to prevent measles
outbreaks," which caused over 100 deaths in 1997 and 1998 in Argentina and Brazil.
"It will be critical to implement PAHO's recommended vaccination strategy for measles
eradication in full, and include other groups potentially at high risk for measles, such
as health care workers, college and university students and faculty, military personnel,
and people working in the tourist industry," he said.
The outbreaks in Argentina and Brazil "have again demonstrated the lethality of
measles virus," Dr. de Quadros noted, but they have also created opportunities
"to reinforce surveillance and to obtain the necessary political commitment to meet
the goal of measles eradication by the year 2000."
Already, regional vaccine campaigns save the lives of more than 200,000 children in Latin
America and the Caribbean each year, according to Dr. de Quadros, and over 80 percent of
children in the Americas under 1 year old are vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis
(whooping cough), tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles and tuberculosis.
"We now face a critical juncture" in the measles eradication plan, Dr. de
Quadros said. "We have made tremendous progress in reducing measles cases, but we
face the danger of importation of measles, so we need to improve surveillance in various
countries and maintain our vaccination rates high."
"The experience from the Americas has clearly demonstrated that regional measles
eradication can be achieved by using currently available attenuated live measles virus
vaccines, and utilizing an appropriate vaccination strategy," said Dr. de Quadros.
When PAHO's Expanded Program on Immunization started 20 years ago, only 25 percent of
children were vaccinated. "The Americas are the only region in the world to have
eliminated polio and are on track to eradicating measles -- which kills 1 million people
worldwide each year -- by 2000," said Dr. Alleyne. The measles eradication plan aims
for 95 percent vaccination coverage in all districts of all countries in the region and
periodic follow-up campaigns targeting pre-school children.
Since 1994, when Ministers of Health of the Americas adopted the goal of eradicating
measles from the Western Hemisphere by the year 2000, the countries have made tremendous
progress. PAHO's campaign to eliminate measles from the Americas by the year 2000
succeeded in cutting cases from 250,000 in 1990 to 2,109 in 1996. However, staggered
outbreaks occurred in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and other countries last year, resulting
in over 10,000 confirmed measles cases. So far in 1999, there have been less than 400
cases of measles in the Americas.
The PAHO-CDC collaboration is being carried out under the framework of PAHO's Regional
Vaccine Initiative, endorsed by all Heads of State in the Americas in 1988. It calls for
partnerships among countries in the Region and international organizations in vaccine
research, development and production, as well as surveillance for vaccine-preventable
diseases and laboratory diagnosis, Dr. Alleyne said.
The collaborative effort was announced at a meeting with Dr. Alleyne, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan,
Director of the CDC, Dr. Walter Orenstein, Director of the CDC's National Immunization
Program, Dr. Samuel Katz, Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical
Center, Dr. de Quadros, and Dr. David Brandling-Bennett, Deputy Director of PAHO.
"CDC looks forward to greater collaboration with PAHO in all areas, and specifically
to eradicate measles by the end of 2000. This initiative is good for the U.S. and CDC,
good for all the countries of the Americas and PAHO, and most importantly, it's good for
the children of this Region," said Dr. Koplan. "CDC is committed to ending the
sickness and death caused by measles, and which can be prevented by an inexpensive vaccine
that has been available for more than 35 years. It is no longer acceptable for us to allow
measles to continue to take its toll on the most vulnerable members of our society,"
The Pan American Health Organization, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the
Americas to improve the health of their peoples and raise their living standards. It
serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.
For further information contact: Daniel Epstein, tel. (202) 974-3459, fax (202) 974-3143,
Office of Public Information, email email@example.com,