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40m children at risk of measles due to COVID disruptions, says WHO

40m children at risk of measles due to COVID disruptions, says WHO
November 24
08:24 2022

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says nearly 40 million children are at risk of measles globally.

In a joint report with the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the organisation said there has been a steady decline in measles vaccination since the start of the COVID pandemic.

The report noted that the decline is a significant setback in achieving and maintaining measles elimination as it leaves millions of children vulnerable.

“In 2021, a record high of nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose. 25 million children missed their first dose, and an additional 14.7 million missed their second dose,” the report reads.

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“In 2021, there were an estimated 9 million cases and 128,000 deaths from measles worldwide. Twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks.

“Declines in vaccine coverage, weakened measles surveillance, and continued interruptions and delays in immunization activities due to COVID-19, as well as persistent large outbreaks in 2022, mean that measles is an imminent threat in every region of the world.”

The organisations, therefore, called on public health officials to immediately accelerate vaccination efforts and strengthen surveillance.

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“CDC and WHO urge coordinated and collaborative action from all partners at global, regional, national, and local levels to prioritize efforts to find and immunize all unprotected children, including those who were missed during the last two years,” the report reads.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed and deployed in record time, routine immunisation programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of children missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles.

“Getting immunization programmes back on track is absolutely critical. Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of preventable disease,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported that 34 states in Nigeria experienced measles outbreaks in 2021, with 10,096 cases and 109 deaths recorded.

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