The European branch warned To the World Health Organization Yesterday, Tuesday, the number of infection cases With measles In Europe, it increased significantly in 2023 compared to last year, calling for intensifying vaccination efforts.
Statistics published by the World Health Organization on Tuesday afternoon showed that 42,200 cases were recorded in 2023 in 41 of the 53 member states in the region extending to Central Asia, that is, about 45 times more than in 2022, during which it was reported that 941 infections were recorded.
Kazakhstan and Russia are the countries most affected by the disease. More than 10,000 cases were recorded in each. As for Western Europe, the most noticeable return of the disease was in the United Kingdom, where 183 cases were recorded.
During the first ten months of 2023, the period covered by the WHO analysis, the increase was 30 times compared to the same period in 2022.
A statement quoted WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge as saying that “not only was there a 30-fold increase in measles cases in the region,” but also “about 21,000 hospitalizations and 5 measles-related deaths were recorded. This is worrying.”
Kluge said, “Urgent vaccination efforts are needed to stop the transmission of infection and prevent its spread.”
The resurgence of this highly contagious viral disease that can cause fatal complications and is spread through the air has been attributed to a decline in vaccination coverage during the COVID-19 years.
The organization explained that “the (Covid-19) pandemic had a significant impact on the performance of the vaccination system during this period, which led to an accumulation of unvaccinated or insufficiently vaccinated children.”
The World Health Organization – which calls for intensifying campaigns to raise awareness of unvaccinated communities – reported that more than 1.8 million infants in the region were not vaccinated against measles between 2020 and 2022.
This disease, which manifests itself in a skin rash preceded by inflammation of the nose and conjunctiva, and a cough accompanied by high fever and extreme fatigue, can affect all age groups.
But in 2023, 2 out of every 5 cases involved children between 1 and 4 years old, while the proportion of cases in those over 20 years old was 1 in 5.
The goal is 95% vaccination coverage.
At the local level, at least 95% of children should be vaccinated to avoid an outbreak. By 2022, only 92% of European children have received a second dose of the vaccine.
In some areas of the United Kingdom, around Birmingham, the vaccination rate drops to 81%, according to what the British health authorities reported on Friday.
The World Health Organization estimates that measles vaccination prevented the death of 56 million people between 2000 and 2021.
In 2021, the number of deaths from the disease was estimated at 128,000 people worldwide, most of them among unvaccinated or inadequately vaccinated children under 5 years of age.
In 2022, 83% of children worldwide received a dose of measles vaccine before their first birthday, the lowest rate since 2008, according to the United Nations.