A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has unveiled a staggering 43% increase in measles deaths globally between 2021 and 2022. This sharp rise comes after years of declining vaccination rates, highlighting the urgent need for action to prevent further outbreaks and fatalities.
The report reveals that in 2022, a total of 37 countries experienced large or disruptive measles outbreaks, a significant jump from the 22 countries affected in 2021. The majority of these outbreaks occurred in the WHO Region for Africa, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, and the European Region. The impact of these outbreaks is far-reaching, posing a risk to not only the affected countries but also to communities where vaccination rates are suboptimal.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads easily through respiratory droplets. It can lead to severe illness, complications, and even death. However, it is preventable through vaccination, with two doses of the vaccine providing effective protection.
Although there was a modest increase in global vaccination coverage in 2022 compared to the previous year, the report highlights a concerning shortfall. Approximately 33 million children worldwide missed a measles vaccine dose, with 22 million failing to receive the first dose and an additional 11 million missing the second dose. These figures fall significantly below the critical threshold of 95% vaccination coverage required to prevent measles outbreaks in communities.
Low-income countries, where measles presents the highest mortality risk, are particularly affected by persistently low vaccination rates, standing at just 66%. This lack of progress in vaccination coverage following the disruptions caused by the pandemic is deeply troubling. The report emphasizes the dire situation faced by 22 million children who missed their initial measles vaccine dose in 2022, with the majority concentrated in Angola, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
WHO Director for Immunization, Vaccine, and Biologicals, Kate O’Brien, underscores the urgent need for comprehensive action to address this disparity in measles vaccination coverage. She describes measles as the “inequity virus,” disproportionately affecting those who are left unprotected. A global collaboration and concerted effort are crucial to bridging these gaps and protecting vulnerable populations worldwide.
Q: What is the main finding of the report by WHO and CDC?
A: The report reveals a 43% increase in measles deaths globally between 2021 and 2022 due to declining vaccination rates.
Q: Which regions were most affected by measles outbreaks?
A: The WHO Region for Africa experienced the largest number of outbreaks, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, and the European Region.
Q: How does measles spread?
A: Measles is highly contagious and primarily spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.
Q: Can measles be prevented?
A: Yes, measles is preventable through vaccination, with two doses of the vaccine providing effective protection.
Q: Which countries have the highest number of children missing measles vaccine doses?
A: The ten countries with the highest number of children missing their initial measles vaccine dose are Angola, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines.