The World Health Organization (WHO) and US Health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday warned about an impending global measles threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s ongoing impact on vaccine coverage and impaired disease surveillance, reported The Reuters.
A joint report released by the two organization claims that last year about 40 million children missed a vaccination dose for measles, which is among one of the world`s most contagious diseases. As per the report, 25 million children missed their first dose and an additional 14.7 million children missed their second dose of measles vaccine. The decline in measles vaccination coverage has been attributed to hurdles created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO`s measles chief Patrick O`Connor said the UN health organization has reported an increase in large disruptive outbreaks since the beginning of 2022, going from 19 to 30 by September. He added that he was particularly concerned about parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2021, there were an estimated 9 million cases and 128 000 deaths from measles worldwide. 22 countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks.
The WHO and CDC said continued decline in vaccination coverage, weak disease surveillance and delayed response plans due to the coronavirus pandemic, and ongoing outbreaks in more than 20 countries, mean that “measles is an imminent threat in every region of the world.’’
The two organizations have called for coordinated action from all the countries and organizations at global, regional, and national levels to prioritize efforts to find and immunize all unprotected children, including those who missed vaccination doses during the last two years.
The WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said getting immunization programmes back on track is very critical. He added that behind every statistic in the report is a child at risk of a preventable disease.