Health

Low vaccine coverage could be behind measles outbreaks: WHO

The world saw 300 per cent more cases in the first three months of 2019 compared to last year

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 18 April 2019
Measles outbreak
Photo: Getty Images Photo: Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) has blamed the measles outbreaks in countries around the world on declining vaccinations. According to its latest measles surveillance data, cases have risen by 300 per cent in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

When the disease is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine, the surveillance data shows that second dose coverage, while increasing, stands at 67 per cent.

The UN health agency listed Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine are currently facing outbreaks causing deaths, mostly among children.

The global coverage for the first dose of the vaccine has stalled at 85 per cent, which is still short of the 95 per cent needed to prevent outbreaks, says WHO..

However, the Geneva-based international health body also underlines the fact that there are many countries facing outbreaks despite significant vaccination coverage. These countries include the United States of America, Israel, Thailand and Tunisia. The reason it gave for this is the disease spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.

In 2019 itself, 555 cases of measles have been reported in the USA, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the second biggest attack of measles since 2000 when the disease was termed eliminated. The country saw 667 cases of measles in 2014 and if the present trend continues, this year’s total will surpass that record.

The WHO called measles one of the world’s most contagious diseases as around 1.1 lakh people lost their lives to the disease in 2017.

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