China is drafting an action plan for measles control for the next few years which aims to eliminate measles by 2012, according to a health official Tuesday in Xiamen.
The rate of measles incidence in China has decreased by 95 percent since the 1990s due to the planned immunization that started in 1978, with the lowest figure in history reported in 1995, about five per 100,000, said Qi Xiaoqiu, director of the Department of Disease Control under the Ministry of Health.
However, since 1995, the incidence of measles has been rising again. In 2005, the highest incidence rate was reported in the past 10 years. Some provinces are still seeing high prevalence this year, Qi said at a national conference on the immunization plan of 2006.
Last year, China reported nearly 130,000 measles cases nationwide, with the incidence rate at 10 per 100,000. Most provinces and regions saw measles outbreaks, including underdeveloped western regions and eastern parts with large rural-migrant floating populations, according to epidemic reports by the ministry.
Today, measles is still a major infectious disease menacing Chinese children's health and life, said Qi, noting that the elimination of measles is another great challenge in public health after poliomyelitis.
To achieve the goal, local governments should maintain a high immunization rate by making sure the percentage of the two-dose vaccination reaches at least 95. The surveillance system should be improved as well, he said.
Measles will hopefully be the third infectious disease to be eliminated in the world after smallpox and poliomyelitis, which expected to be vanished soon. The Americas region of the World Health Organization (WHO) eliminated measles in 2000, while the European region, the eastern Mediterranean region and the western Pacific region have pledged to achieve the goal by 2007, 2010 and 2012, respectively.
(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2006)