Mexico: Measles, 1989-1990

In the 1989-1990 outbreak of measles in Guerrero, 84,000 people contracted the disease and there were an estimated 6,000 deaths, many caused by secondary illnesses such as diarrhea and bronchopneumonia. During the outbreak, CIET provided emergency assistance to 337 communities in the remote areas of Guerrero. CIET personnel and medical students also trained local community members in the diagnosis and treatment of the most frequent complications. An evaluation of the extent of protection provided by the anti-measles vaccination revealed that an unvaccinated child carried five times the risk of contracting measles that a vaccinated child ran.

After the epidemic, a research project in CIET’s sentinel sites investigated the costs incurred by the communities and the health services as a consequence of the outbreak and showed them that it is cheaper to vaccinate against measles than to control an epidemic. The costs incurred by the community and the health authorities were compared with what it would have cost to vaccinate all the children in the state. The results revealed that the cost of the epidemic to the communities was the equivalent 27 working days for each case, based on the local cost of labour, substantially more than the cost of sustaining a universal vaccination project over five years.
For further information see:
Andersson, N., Paredes, S., Legorreta, J., Ledogar, R.J. Who pays for measles? The economic argument for sustained universal child immunization. Health Policy and Planning 1992; 7(4):352-63.