Measles killed an estimated 207,500 people last year after a decade-long failure to reach optimal vaccination coverage, the World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said in a joint report on November 13. The annual death toll of Measles in 2019 surged to 50 per cent higher than its all-time low in 2016. Measles, which is defined as a “highly contagious” viral infection has led to over 869,770 fatalities since its detection.
While the last year’s death toll reached highest in 23 years, experts have said that infection is considerably lesser this year. However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has further set back vaccination efforts,” with more than 94 million people at risk of missing measles vaccines in 26 countries that have paused their vaccination campaigns,” the report said.
The world is facing one health crisis with #COVID19. Access to routine immunizations can stop another.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 12, 2020
New data shows #measles surged worldwide in 2019, reaching the highest number of reported cases in 23 years https://t.co/b7ushMIanl pic.twitter.com/mQ6MirbFmr
"Before there was a coronavirus crisis, the world was grappling with a measles crisis, and it has not gone away. While health systems are strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not allow our fight against one deadly disease to come at the expense of our fight against another.” Henrietta Fore, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, said in a statement.
According to WHO, measles is entirely preventable, however for success, it requires 95 per cent of children to be vaccinated on time with two doses of measles-containing vaccine – MCV1 or MCV 2. While the vaccine has saved over 25.5 million lives globally since 2000, its low coverage meant the number of unprotected children was growing every year, Natasha Crowcroft, senior technical advisor on measles and Rubella said. Elaborating further upon the reason for low coverage, she asserted that weak health systems in addition to the inability to reach children were the main problem globally. However, some countries were increasingly seeing a rise in vaccine hesitancy making the problem worse.