The World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting a near doubling of measles cases amid rising severe and protracted outbreaks across the globe.
Figures from the United Nation’s health agency show that as of mid-January this year, there were 229,068 reported cases of measles during 2018 in 183 Member States. Countries have until April to file data on the previous year’s disease burden. The figure represents an almost doubling of the measles cases for 2017 reported at the same point last year (115,117). This figure eventually increased to 173,330. “Due to reporting delays and outbreaks late in 2018, we expect that these numbers will increase, as they have done in previous years,” the agency said.
There were 33,879 cases in Africa, almost 17,000 cases in the Americas, just less than 22,000 cases in the Eastern Mediterranean, 82,596 infections in 47 of 53 countries in Europe, 73,133 cases in South-East Asia and 23,607 in the Western Pacific.
Dr Katherine O’Brien, Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at the WHO urged countries to sustain high immunisation coverage with two doses of measles vaccine. “We’re backsliding on the progress that has been made, not because we don’t have the tools, but because we’re not vaccinating,” she said.