A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed a concerning uptick in measles-related deaths worldwide, with a 43% increase from 2021 to 2022. This surge in fatalities comes after years of declining vaccination rates, spelling a dangerous situation for global health.
In 2022, a total of 37 countries experienced significant measles outbreaks, compared to 22 countries in the previous year. The majority of these outbreaks occurred in the WHO Region for Africa, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, and the European Region. This exponential rise in outbreaks and deaths does not come as a surprise, considering the declining rates of vaccination witnessed over the past few years.
Measles, a highly contagious viral disease, spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs, breathes, or sneezes. Without proper immunization, it can lead to severe complications and even death. The good news is that measles is preventable with a two-dose vaccine regimen. However, despite a modest increase in global vaccination coverage from 2021 to 2022, a staggering 33 million children worldwide missed out on receiving their measles vaccines.
The critical issue highlighted by the report is the significant shortfall in global vaccination coverage. The first dose of the vaccine reached only 83% coverage, while the second dose stood at a mere 74%. Both rates fall far below the minimum threshold of 95% required to protect communities from measles outbreaks. This shortfall is particularly acute in low-income countries, where measles poses the highest risk of mortality. In these nations, vaccination rates remain alarmingly low at just 66%.
The report further underscores the alarming situation faced by 22 million children who missed their initial measles vaccine dose in 2022. Disturbingly, over half of these children come from ten countries, including 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, aptly describes measles as the “inequity virus,” as it disproportionately affects those without access to vaccination and leaves them vulnerable.
Addressing these disparities and ensuring comprehensive protection against measles requires urgent and targeted action. Global collaboration and concerted efforts are essential to bridge the gaps and safeguard vulnerable populations from the inequalities of measles vaccination. All children, regardless of their geographic location, deserve the right to be protected by the lifesaving measles vaccine.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. How significant was the increase in measles deaths from 2021 to 2022?
The report highlights a startling 43% increase in measles deaths globally during this period. This statistic underscores the urgency of addressing declining vaccination rates.
2. Which regions experienced the most measles outbreaks in 2022?
The majority of outbreaks occurred in the WHO Region for Africa, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, and the European Region.
3. Is measles preventable?
Yes, measles is preventable with a two-dose vaccine. However, this requires high vaccination coverage rates within communities to effectively shield against outbreaks.
4. How many children missed out on receiving their measles vaccines in 2022?
Around 33 million children worldwide missed out on receiving their measles vaccines in 2022. Of these, approximately 22 million missed their first dose, and an additional 11 million missed their second dose.
5. Which countries are particularly affected by low measles vaccination rates?
Ten countries with disproportionately low measles vaccination rates are Angola, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines. These countries account for over half of the 22 million children who missed their initial measles vaccine dose in 2022.