The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday that Nigeria and nine other countries account for over half of the 22 million children who missed their first measles vaccine dose in 2022.
The other countries were Angola, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
In a new report, the UN bodies said that in 2022, an estimated 9 million and 136,000 deaths due to measles, mostly among children, occurred following years of declines in measles vaccination coverage across the world.
It added that measles cases and deaths had increased by 18% and 43%, respectively, in 2022 compared to 2021 globally.
While in 2022, 37 countries experienced large or disruptive measles outbreaks compared with 22 countries in 2021, the report said 28 of these countries that experienced outbreaks were in the WHO Region for Africa, six in the Eastern Mediterranean, two in South-East Asia, and one in the European Region.
According to the report, low-income countries, where the risk of death from measles is highest, continue to have the lowest vaccination rates at only 66%, a rate that shows no recovery at all from the backsliding during the pandemic.
Despite a modest increase in global vaccination coverage that occurred in 2022 compared with 2021, according to the report, 33 million children missed a measles vaccine dose, nearly 22 million missed their first dose, and an additional 11 million missed their second dose in 2022.
WHO Director for Immunisation, Vaccines, and Biologicals, Kate O’Brien, said in a reaction that “the lack of recovery in measles vaccine coverage in low-income countries following the pandemic is an alarm bell for action.
Measles is called the inequity virus for good reason. It is the disease that will find and attack those who aren’t protected. Children everywhere have the right to be protected by the lifesaving measles vaccine, no matter where they live.”
In his remark, Director of the CDC’s Global Immunisation Division, John Vertefeuille, stated, “The increase in measles outbreaks and deaths is staggering, but unfortunately, not unexpected given the declining vaccination rates we’ve seen in the past few years.
Measles cases anywhere pose a risk to all countries and communities where people are under-vaccinated. Urgent, targeted efforts are critical to prevent measles disease and deaths.”
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