As you know, the whole world has surrendered to the COVID-19 virus for the last two years. This situation led to the relegation of many diseases that were not related to COVID-19 at one point, as if they were no longer there. The oblivion of many other diseases due to the priority of COVID-19 vaccine campaigns has benefited another disease that could potentially endanger the lives of millions of children.
In the statements made by the United Nations (UN) children’s agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), it was reported that measles cases increased by about 80 percent worldwide this year. In the statement, it was noted that this increase in measles cases shows that epidemics of other diseases are also possible.
Measles endanger the lives of millions of children
More than 17,300 cases of measles were reported globally in January and February this year, according to new data from UN agencies. was recorded. This number was 9,600 in these months last year. In the last 12 months until April, 21 large and devastating measles outbreaks, mostly in Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, were noted in the data.
According to UN data, the country with the highest number of measles cases in the last 12 months was Somalia with more than 9 thousand cases, followed by Yemen, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Ethiopia. There were also reports of concerns that the ongoing war in Ukraine, which recorded the highest measles rate in Europe between 2017 and 2019, could cause the disease to re-emerge in the country.
Stating that measles is often a warning sign because it is “the most contagious disease that can be prevented by vaccination”, senior health adviser from UNICEF’s immunization division, Christopher Gregory, said in a statement on the subject, “Measles really tells us what these weaknesses in the immunization system are. it shows”.
However, Gregory stated that yellow fever cases are reported to be on the rise in West Africa and that yellow fever may be the next disease to rise. Gregory stated that the countries they are most worried about are the ‘fragile’ countries whose health systems are not very developed and are still struggling with the effects of COVID-19.
“The impact of these cuts on immunization services will be felt for decades to come.”
The COVID-19 pandemic may seem to have subsided for now; however, due to this two-year period, unfortunately more than 23 million children missed routine vaccinations in 2020. The fact that this number is the highest in more than a decade causes further concern.
In the statement made by UN institutions, it is stated that 57 vaccination campaigns in 43 countries, which were postponed at the beginning of the pandemic, are still not completed and 203 million people, mostly children, are affected by this situation. In addition, it is noted that COVID-19 continues to put pressure on healthcare facilities and distract attention from vaccination against deadly diseases.
In a statement on this, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “The impact of these cuts on immunization services will be felt for decades to come.” “Now is the time to get basic immunization back on track and launch catch-up campaigns so everyone has access to these life-saving vaccines.” he adds. Similarly, Gregory stresses that the time has come for childhood immunizations to be at least as important as ending COVID-19 vaccinations.
On the other hand, it is stated that a vaccination of at least 95 percent is the best way to prevent the spread of measles. The fact that this rate is only 46 percent in Somalia shows how terrible the danger is.