An international report released on Wednesday warned that vaccination against measles, a disease that can lead to death, is declining worldwide in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, putting tens of millions of children at risk.
“For three years, we have been sounding the alarm about declining vaccination rates and increasing health risks for children around the world,” Efrem Tekle Limangu, who is in charge of vaccination programs at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said in a statement.
“We have a narrow window to make up” for missed vaccine doses, he added.
In turn, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, “immunization programs have been seriously affected.”
“Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of developing a preventable disease,” he said.
According to a joint report published by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40 million children did not receive a dose of measles vaccine in 2021 (25 million did not receive their first dose and 14.7 million did not receive their first dose). second dose).
Global measles first-dose vaccination coverage thus fell to its lowest level since 2008.
Among the countries with the highest number of unvaccinated children against measles are Nigeria, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
According to the report, the number of people infected with measles is estimated to have reached nine million in 2021, of which 128,000 have died.
Last year measles outbreaks spread to 22 countries, most of them in the Middle East and Africa.
In April, the World Health Organization warned that the number of reported cases of measles increased by almost 80% in the first two months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
“There is no time to waste,” said Elizabeth Cousins, president of the United Nations Foundation. “We must act now to ensure that these life-saving vaccines are available to every child.”
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that has no cure, but can be prevented with two doses of the vaccine.
Measles causes a high fever and rash and is contagious for up to four days before and after the onset of symptoms.
Although the symptoms of this disease are often benign, at other times they can be dangerous as they can lead to respiratory (pneumonia) and nervous (encephalitis) complications, especially in people who are in poor health.