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Notice to Readers Recommendations from a Meeting on the Feasibility of Global Measles Eradication

During July 9-10, 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization, and CDC cosponsored a meeting to review recent progress in controlling measles and to discuss the feasibility of global measles eradication. Participants included representatives from each WHO regional office, U.S. academic medical institutions, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, local health departments, and several state public health laboratories.

Country and regional presentations documented tremendous recent progress in worldwide measles control and increasing interest in pursuing global measles eradication. Six principal conclusions and recommendations resulted from the meeting:

  1. Worldwide measles eradication is feasible using currently available vaccines and should be achievable within the next 10-15 years;

  2. Single-dose strategies are not adequate to achieve eradication, and intensive efforts are needed to achieve adequate levels of population immunity;

  3. Surveillance for measles, which must guide all efforts to control measles, must be based on clinical findings suggestive of measles;

  4. Laboratory diagnosis will become increasingly important as control of measles improves, and molecular epidemiologic studies, which require measles virus isolates, will be increasingly used to track transmission of measles;

  5. Measles outbreaks represent an opportunity to build the political will necessary to implement appropriate prevention strategies and must be well understood to refine prevention strategies; and

  6. The major obstacles to measles eradication are perceptual, political, and financial. Considerable efforts are needed to change the incorrect perception that, in many industrialized countries, measles is a mild illness.

International consensus and commitment and a global plan of action are essential to facilitate coordination between countries, donors, technical agencies, and international organizations to assure that activities are efficiently conducted. In addition, polio-eradication efforts need to be strengthened in countries with endemic poliovirus transmission to ensure that the introduction of measles-elimination activities sustains the polio-eradication initiative.

The report of the meeting is available in WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Record (1) from the World Wide Web at or from WHO, Distribution and Sales, 20 Avenue Appia, CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland; fax: 41 22 791 4857. Additional information about the progress in controlling measles will be provided in an MMWR Recommendations and Reports during the first quarter of 1997.


  1. World Health Organization. Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). Meeting on advances in measles elimination: conclusions and recommendations. Wkly Epidemiol Rec 1996;71:305-9.

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