Mozambique looks to reduce measles deaths by 98 percent

On Sunday, a U.N. Foundation official said that Mozambique plans to vaccinate 3.6 million children against measles during the next five days in an effort to reduce deaths 98 percent by the end of 2012.

This would bring the southern African country closer to the goal signed by 46 sub-Saharan countries and set by the World Health Organization to reduce measles deaths by 98 percent, reports AFP.

"This campaign has put Mozambique in a position to be the first sub-Saharan African country to reach the 2012 goal," Andrea Gay, executive director for children's health at the U.N. Foundation, told AFP.

In a $4.5 million campaign, health officials throughout the country will vaccinate children less than 5 years old from Monday to Friday. The preparations for the campaign were inspected by representative of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the WHO, and former U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT). Although Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries, it has improved measles immunization to cover 74.1 percent of the population.

In 2010, the country recorded 434 cases, down from 197,000 cases in 2007.

"It is very rare for doctors to find cases of measles in Mozambique nowadays,” Paulo Ivo Garridohe, Mozambique's health minister, said, according to AFP.

"On a global scale we can eradicate measles by 2020,"  Gay said, reports AFP.