GENEVA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- The number of measles deaths globally dropped from 542,000 to 158,000 between 2000 and 2011, a decrease of 71 percent, according to new data released Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Over the same period, new cases dropped 58 percent from 853,500 in 2000 to 355,000 in 2011.
Overall progress in reducing deaths is linked largely to increased vaccination coverage, according to the WHO.
The WHO recommends that every child receive two doses of measles vaccine. Since 2000, with support from the Measles & Rubella Initiative, more than 1 billion children have been reached through mass vaccination campaigns.
Despite this global progress, some populations remain unprotected. An estimated 20 million children worldwide did not receive the first dose of vaccine in 2011, according to the WHO data.
More than half of these children live in five countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.
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