July 22, 2024

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The World Health Organization sounds the alarm: measles cases have doubled worldwide

The World Health Organization sounds the alarm: measles cases have doubled worldwide

Covid disrupted routine measles vaccinations around the world in 2020 and 2021. This has left millions of children – especially in poor countries – unprotected against one of the world's most infectious diseases.

The World Health Organization is sounding the alarm: the number of measles cases has nearly doubled in the past year to nearly 322,000 cases worldwide, compared to 171,000 cases in 2022.

However, the most worrying trend according to the World Health Organization is the number of countries experiencing “large or devastating measles outbreaks.” This number tripled from 17 in 2022 to as many as 51 last year.

Such an outbreak is defined as at least twenty measles cases per million population per year.

“Such a large outbreak and continued transmission of measles always raises concerns and makes permanent elimination of the disease difficult,” WHO expert Patrick O'Connor said when presenting the figures at a conference in Barcelona this weekend.

The storm does not seem to calm down yet. This year, the world is on track to at least match 2023's numbers. Europe and countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan are particularly hard hit, where nearly half of all cases have been recorded this year.

pandemic

The reason behind the increase? The World Health Organization points the finger at the Covid-19 pandemic. Childhood illness was already on the rise in 2019, especially in Africa, but the Corona pandemic caused a temporary decline in its spread globally due to quarantine measures, among other things.

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During the epidemic I stumbled But also the measles vaccination campaign. World Health Organization figures show that a record number of children were not vaccinated in 2021, amounting to 40 million children. Public health experts call it… Biggest setback In combating measles within one generation.

inequality

Measles usually causes a high temperature, cough, and rash. In pregnant women, the disease increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.

Low-income countries are more likely to die from the disease and are disproportionately affected by the current rise in cases. Its share of the absolute number of cases worldwide rose from 80% in 2017 to 95% in 2022. In rich countries, this share fell from 5% to 1% over the same period.

“Over the past two decades, significant progress has been made in eliminating measles,” O'Connor said at the conference. “To consolidate and sustain this progress, we must ensure high, uniform and equitable coverage of routine vaccinations. In the event of an outbreak in inaccessible areas, we must also ensure a rapid response and a robust action plan.”