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, adding up to a global total of 869,770.
killed an estimated 207,500 people last year after a decade-long
failure to reach optimal vaccination coverage, resulting in the highest number of cases for 23 years.
A joint report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) said in a joint report that the death toll in 2019 was 50 per cent higher than a historic low reached in 2016. All WHO
regions saw an increase in cases, adding up to a global total of 869,770.
pandemic has further set back vaccination efforts this year, with more than 94
million people at risk of missing measles vaccines in 26 countries that
have paused their vaccination campaigns, including many countries with
Countries that have recently suffered large measles outbreaks include
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Central African
Republic (CAR), Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, Samoa, Tonga, and
“Before there was a coronavirus
crisis, the world was grappling with a measles crisis, and it has not gone away”, Henrietta Fore, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF
Executive Director, said in a statement. She added that 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
Measles is entirely preventable, but success requires 95 per cent of
children to be vaccinated on time with two doses of measles-containing
vaccines (MCV1 and MCV2). MCV1 coverage has been stagnant globally for more than a decade at between 84 and 85 per cent, while MCV2 coverage has been steadily increasing but is still only at 71 per cent.
Natasha Crowcroft, a senior technical advisor on measles and rubella at the WHO, said that the good news was that measles vaccinations had saved more than 25.5 million lives globally since 2000. But the low
vaccine coverage meant the number of unprotected children was growing every year.
“The big issue is not actually large holes in coverage, it's the stalling in coverage”, Dr Crowcroft told a news conference in Geneva.
“It's a bit like, you know, tinder for a forest fire, it reaches a
point where an outbreak really takes off. And that's what we saw in
2019, with the almost explosive outbreaks in areas that have had inadequate coverage over many years”, Dr Crowcroft said.
Weak health systems and the inability to reach children were the main
problem globally and vaccine hesitancy was an additional problem in
some countries, she said. “If you have coverage around about that 80 per cent level, then you
get the sense that things are going okay, but they're not really, and
eventually, you see these large outbreaks.”
Last week UNICEF and WHO issued a joint call to action to avert major
measles and polio epidemics, calling for an additional USD 255 million
over the next three years to address dangerous measles immunity gaps in
the 45 countries at the highest risk of an imminent outbreak.