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The results from a new study published in The Lancet today (free registration required) demonstrates that measles immunization campaigns and improvements in routine immunization services have reduced measles cases by 91% in 19 African nations from 2000-2003, preventing an estimated 90,000 child deaths in 2003 alone.

Between 2000 and June, 2003, 82·1 million children were targeted for vaccination during initial SIA in 12 countries and follow-up SIA in seven countries. The average decline in the number of reported measles cases was 91%. In 17 of the 19 countries, measles case-based surveillance confirmed that transmission of measles virus, and therefore measles deaths, had been reduced to low or very low rates. The total estimated number of deaths averted in the year 2003 was 90 043. Between 2000 and 2003 in the African Region as a whole, we estimated that the percentage decline in annual measles deaths was around 20% (90 043 of 454 000).

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