WHO raises alarm as more than half the world faces high measles risk

The World Health Organisation, on Tuesday, raise the alarm at the rapid spread of measles, with more than 306,000 cases reported worldwide last year -a 79-per cent increase from 2022.

The WHO technical adviser on measles and rubella, Natasha Crowcroft said, “We in the measles world are extremely concerned.”

“What we are worried about is this year, 2024, we’ve got these big gaps in our immunisation programmes and if we don’t fill them really quickly with the vaccine, measles will just jump into that gap,” the WHO’s Natasha Crowcroft, a Senior Technical Adviser on Measles and Rubella, told a Geneva press briefing.

Cases last year were already up 79% to over 300,000, according to WHO data, – thought to represent just a fraction of the total.

Crowcroft called for urgent action to protect children, saying there was a “lack of commitment” by governments given competing issues like economic crises and conflict.

To get more accurate figures, the UN health agency models the numbers each year, with its latest estimate indicating that there were 9.2 million cases and 136,216 measles deaths in 2022.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious airborne disease caused by a virus that can lead to severe complications and death. It majorly affects children.

Cases have been increasing across most regions mainly due to missed vaccinations during the COVID-19 years when health systems were overwhelmed and fell behind on routine vaccinations for preventable diseases.

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