Measles killed 207,500 people in 2019 – WHO

Countries that have recently had major measles outbreaks include the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Central African Republic (CAR), Georgia, Kazakhstan, northern Macedonia, Samoa, Tonga and Ukraine.

Global measles deaths increased by 50 percent from 2016 to 2019, claiming more than 207,500 lives in 2019, the WHO said in a statement issued at its headquarters in Geneva on Thursday, citing figures from a joint report that he co-published with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). ).

“Measles killed 207,500 people in 2019 after a decade-long failure to achieve optimal coverage, resulting in the highest number of cases for 23 years.

‘The death toll in 2019 was 50 per cent higher than a historic low reached in 2016, and all WHO regions saw an increase in cases and produced a world total of 869,770.

‘This year there have been fewer cases, but the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed back vaccination efforts further, with more than 94 million people at risk of missing measles vaccination in 26 countries that have suspended their vaccinations, including many countries with continuous vaccination. break out, “WHO said.

The statement quoted Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, as saying: “we know how to prevent outbreaks and deaths from measles.

“This data sends a clear message that we are not protecting children from measles in every region of the world.

“We must work together to support countries and engage communities to reach everyone, everywhere with measles vaccine and stop this deadly virus.”

The statement also quoted Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as saying: “before there was a coronavirus crisis, the world struggled with a measles crisis, and it did not go away. .

‘While health systems by the Covid-19 pandemic, we must not allow our fight against one deadly disease to be at the expense of our fight against another. ‘

Measles is completely preventable, but success requires that 95 percent of children be vaccinated in time with two doses of measles-containing vaccines (MCV1 and MCV2).

Global MCV1 coverage has stagnated at between 84 and 85 percent for more than a decade, while MCV2 coverage has gradually increased but is still only 71 percent.

Natasha Crowcroft, senior technical adviser on measles and rubella at the WHO, said the good news was that measles vaccinations had saved more than 25.5 million lives worldwide since 2000.

‘But the low vaccine coverage means that the number of unprotected children has grown annually; the biggest problem is not the large coverage in the coverage, but the weakening in the coverage.

“It’s a bit like a forest fire, it’s reaching a point where an outbreak is really starting. That’s what we saw in 2019 with the almost explosive outbreaks in areas that have had insufficient coverage over many years.

“If you have about 80 percent coverage, you feel like it’s going well, but it’s not really, and eventually you see these big outbreaks.

“Poor health systems and the inability to reach children were the biggest problem worldwide, and in some countries, vaccine hesitation was an additional problem,” Ms Crowcroft said.

On November 6, WHO and UNICEF issued an emergency call for action on the prevention and response of measles and polio outbreaks, asking for an additional $ 255 million over the next three years.

UN agencies are calling for additional funds to address the gaps in the 45 countries against immunity to measles, with the greatest risk of an impending outbreak.

Countries that have recently had major measles outbreaks include the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Central African Republic (CAR), Georgia, Kazakhstan, northern Macedonia, Samoa, Tonga and Ukraine.

“Measles virus easily finds unprotected children, adolescents and adults because it is so contagious,” said Robert Linkins, chairman of the measles and rubella initiative’s management team and head of the accelerated disease control branch at the US CDC.

“Infections are not only a sign of poor coverage against measles vaccination, but also a well-known marker, or ‘tracer’, that important health services may not reach populations that are most at risk.

“Our joint efforts to reach children with vaccinations now, ahead of the possible easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions and increased population movement, will save lives.”

(NAN)

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