Washington, DC, (PAHO) May 3, 1999- A collaborative effort to eradicate measles from the Americas was approved Friday 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 a
Contact: Daniel Epstein
Pan American Health Organization