According to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), the latest data estimate sit to 142,300 measles deaths in 2018, an increase of nearly 15 percent over the previous year,media reported. The vast majority of deaths occur among children under five years of age, with sub-Saharan Africa being the most affected by the lack of adequate immunization.
Measles is an infectious disease caused by a small globular virus that is highly contagious and is transmitted from person to person through contact with droplets usually secreted from the respiratory tract through coughing and sneezing. Complications include fever, pneumonia and brain swelling, all of which can lead to death — especially among young and malnourished groups of children. However, a safe and effective measles vaccine has been around for more than 50 years.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said the fact that any child had died from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles showed a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable group, children.
Since 2000, WHO figures estimate that more than 21 million people have been prevented from dying by vaccination. However, the disease has recently returned. In January, the WHO announced that the anti-vaccine campaign and indecision on vaccinations were among the top 10 health threats in 2019. In response to the growing number of people who are reluctant or refusing to vaccinate, misinformation is spreading through social media, which the WHO warns could reverse progress in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo had the highest incidence of measles in 2018, with 5,000 reported deaths in the country by 2019. A similar outbreak is now occurring in the Pacific Samoa. The Samoan government was forced to close for two days as a result of the outbreak, which has so far killed 62 people there.