Measles cases rise 30 percent worldwide

The WHO said the worrying trend of resurgent measles cases was a near global phenomenon

Some 173,000 measles cases were officially reported worldwide in 2017, a jump of more than 30 percent from the previous year, the World Health Organization said in a report.

There has been a worldwide resurgence of measles, with many countries experiencing "severe and protracted" outbreaks past year, a report warns.

The report finds the Americas, the eastern Mediterranean region, and Europe have experienced the greatest surges in cases, with the western Pacific the only region where the number of cases has fallen.

The five-week long initiative that aims to vaccine 13.16 lakh children in the age group of 9-15 years in Meerut district got a kickstart against the deadly diseases-Measles and Rubella. However, since 2016, illness reports have increased by more than 30%. Measles could be prevented through two doses of a vaccine, officials said.

In addition, WHO's director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, Martin Friede, says there has been a very worrying jump of more than 30 percent in reported measles cases worldwide. But now with a sudden global spike in measles cases - increasing by almost a third after years of steady decline and resulting in 110,000 deaths - forgetting is less and less the issue. "Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunised children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease".

It also asked government health authorities to maintain 95 percent coverage of the first and second doses of the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. He said complacency, the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine in Europe, Venezuela's collapsing health system, and pockets of fragility and low vaccine coverage in Africa have combined to trigger a global resurgence after years of progress.

"The increase in measles cases is deeply concerning, but not surprising", said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. "Otherwise we will continue chasing one outbreak after another".

As of July, endemic measles was re-established in Venezuela, leading to outbreaks in bordering countries; the region had been declared free of endemic measles in 2016. As recently as the 1980s it killed more than 2.5 million people every year, mainly children.

The agencies also call for actions to build broad-based public support for immunizations, while tackling misinformation and hesitancy around vaccines where these exist. The difference being that while parents in Europe may have chosen for their children not to be vaccinated, that choice is putting vulnerable children in poor countries in mortal danger because for them the high levels of malnutrition and limited healthcare make the virus far more lethal.



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