West News Wire: “In January and February 2022, about 17,338 measles cases were reported worldwide, compared to 9,665 in the first two months of 2021,” the UN agencies said, adding that instances of highly-transmissible measles tend to appear swiftly when vaccination levels decrease.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus pandemic disrupted vaccination campaigns for several diseases around the world, producing a “perfect storm” that might endanger the lives of millions of children.
The agencies are now concerned that the outbreaks of measles “could forewarn outbreaks of other diseases that do not spread as rapidly”.
There have been 21 large and disruptive measles outbreaks in the last 12 months up to this month, most of them in Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, UN data shows.
Somalia recorded by far the most measles cases in the last 12 months with more than 9,000 cases, the UN data shows, followed by Yemen, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Ethiopia all countries facing some form of conflict.
There are also fears that the war in Ukraine could spark a resurgence of the disease in the country, which had recorded Europe’s highest rate of measles between 2017-and 2019.
More than 23 million children missed out on routine vaccinations in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread the largest number of children to miss vaccinations in more than a decade.
The UN agencies said that 57 vaccination campaigns in 43 countries were postponed at the start of the pandemic and they still have not been completed, affecting 203 million people, most of them children.
The pandemic continues to place pressure on healthcare facilities and staff, taking attention away from vital vaccination for long-standing and deadly diseases.