Measles Cases Spike Globally And Hit Highest In 20 Years In Europe

A little girl happy to know that she's not going to die of preventable diseases. didesign021/Shutterstock

Analysis from the World Health Organization has revealed that cases of measles have spiked everywhere on the planet in recent years, with several countries and an entire world region losing their measles elimination stature. In 2017, only seven countries reported no vaccine hesitancy.

The WHO estimates that last year 110,000 people worldwide died of the disease and that reported cases have increased by about 30 percent since 2016. According to an analysis by the Guardian, cases in Europe will top 60,000 in 2018, doubling last year's cases and making it the highest value in the 21st century.

“The increase in measles cases is deeply concerning, but not surprising,” Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said in a WHO statement. “Complacency about the disease and the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine in Europe, a collapsing health system in Venezuela and pockets of fragility and low immunization coverage in Africa are combining to bring about a global resurgence of measles after years of progress. Existing strategies need to change: more effort needs to go into increasing routine immunization coverage and strengthening health systems. Otherwise we will continue chasing one outbreak after another.”

Let’s not sugarcoat this pill. The reason why children are dying of preventable diseases in developed countries is due to anti-vaxxers. It is not just populist politicians such as Donald Trump or Italy’s M5S party, or charlatans like discredited medical professional Andrew Wakefield (who falsified a study to link vaccines to autism). It's not even just Facebook mums complaining about vaccines. They are all responsible for these deaths. I say this without hyperbole, the blood of many children is on their hands.

Measles is perfectly preventable thanks to two safe and effective doses of the vaccine. The global coverage should be 95 percent of people being immunized, but for the last several years, it has stalled at 85 percent for the first dose and 67 percent for the second dose.

“The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving measles elimination,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO. “Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under- or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease.”

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