Measles cases spike globally as gaps persist in vaccination coverage: WHO

New York,   The Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean region, and Europe experienced the greatest upsurges in measles cases in the year 2017 with an estimated 1,10,000 deaths related to the disease across the globe, according to a new report by World Health Organization (WHO).

The report, ‘Progress Toward Regional Measles Elimination – Worldwide, 2000-2017’ a joint publication of WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Friday suggested that the spike in measles cases occurred owing to gaps in vaccination coverage.

However, the Western Pacific is the only WHO region where measles incidence fell, the report stated.

“Since 2000, over 21 million lives have been saved through measles immunizations. However, reported cases increased by more than 30 percent worldwide from 2016,” the report said.

“The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving measles elimination,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO.

“Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease,” she added.

In India, to eliminate measles and control rubella by 2020, the government has initiated the Measles-Rubella (MR) Campaign targeting to vaccinate 410 million children and adolescents between 9 months to 15 years of age. Started in February 2017, 135 million children have been vaccinated in 28 states/Uts so far.