By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported this week that last year saw more than 140,000 measles-related fatalities across the globe.
According to officials, the most affected countries in 2018 include the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine. These five countries accounted for almost half of all measles cases worldwide.
Most deaths were among children under 5 years of age.
“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “To save lives, we must ensure everyone can benefit from vaccines – which means investing in immunization and quality health care as a right for all.”
Measles is preventable through vaccination. However, vaccination rates globally have stagnated for almost a decade. WHO and UNICEF estimate that 86% of children globally received the first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services in 2018, and fewer than 70% received the second recommended dose.
“We’ve had a safe and effective measles vaccine for over 50 years,” said Dr. Robert Linkins, Branch Chief of Accelerated Disease Control and Vaccine Preventable Disease Surveillance at the CDC and Chair of the Measles & Rubella Initiative. “These estimates remind us that every child, everywhere needs – and deserves – this life-saving vaccine. We must turn this trend around and stop these preventable deaths by improving measles vaccine access and coverage.”
Over the last 18 years, measles vaccination alone is estimated to have saved more than 23 million lives.