LONDON – The incidence of measles has risen 79% in the first two months of this year compared to 2021, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), the lockdown has hampered child immunization campaigns around the world.
In January and February, there were 17,338 measles cases worldwide, up from 9,665 in the same period last year.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be especially dangerous for young children and infants. It spreads faster than Ebola, Flu or Covid-19.
Katherine Russell, UNICEF’s executive director, described the immunization gaps as “perfect storms” as they returned to the social fold in the wake of the epidemic.
“Measles is more than just a dangerous and potentially deadly disease. It’s also an early indication that there are gaps in our global immunization coverage that vulnerable children cannot afford. ”
The five countries with the highest prevalence of measles in the last 12 months are Somalia, Liberia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Ivory Coast. During that time there were 21 major outbreaks.
Child immunization campaigns around the world were stopped during the coronavirus epidemic, and things did not fully recover.
As of early April, 58 campaigns were still suspended in 43 countries, affecting 212 million people – mostly children. Nineteen of these campaigns put 73 million children at risk for measles, according to UNICEF and the WHO.
Vaccination campaigns for diseases such as typhoid and polio were also disrupted. Last month, Malawi reported its first polio case in decades, while Pakistan, one of only two countries where polio remains endemic, recorded its first case this month for more than a year.
The WHO and UNICEF say it is important to get the vaccination drive back on track. – Jennifer Rigby / Reuters