All World Health Organization regions have set measles elimination goals. We find that as countries progress toward these goals, they undergo predictable changes in the size and frequency of measles outbreaks. A country's position on this "canonical path" is driven by both measles control activities and demographic factors, which combine to change the effective size of the measles-susceptible population, thereby driving the country through theoretically established dynamic regimes. Further, position on the path to elimination provides critical information for guiding vaccination efforts, such as the age profile of susceptibility, that could only otherwise be obtained through costly field studies or sophisticated analysis. Equipped with this information, countries can gain insight into their current and future measles epidemiology and select appropriate strategies to more quickly achieve elimination goals.
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