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Sunday, April 14, 2024

WHO sounds the alarm on global measles epidemic

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The World Health Organisation(WHO) has raised the alarm over what it described as the rapid spread of measles globally, noting a 79 per cent increase from 2022.

In a press conference Tuesday, the WHO Technical Adviser on Measles and Rubella, Natasha Crowcroft, attributed the surge in cases and deaths from measles to the “backsliding immunisation coverage.”

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Ms Crowcroft said experts are “extremely concerned” over the increasing cases and deaths, adding that measles cases are dramatically under-reported.

READ ALSO: High Temperature: Nigerian govt issues alert against dehydration, measles, other diseases

She warned that more than half of all countries globally are considered at high risk for measles outbreaks by year-end, highlighting an estimated 142 million children susceptible to the disease.

“In 2022, the number of deaths increased by 43 per cent, according to our models, to more than 130,000 deaths occurring from measles,” Ms Crowcroft said. “Given the growing case numbers, “we would anticipate an increase in deaths in 2023 as well.”

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Measles is a highly contagious disease that is caused by a virus that attacks mainly children.

The most serious complications include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, and severe respiratory.

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According to Ms Crowcroft, at least 95 per cent vaccination is required to prevent outbreaks, but global rates have fallen to 83 per cent.

She explained that the distribution of cases is marked by significant inequity, particularly in deaths.

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Ms Crowcroft underscored that 92 per cent of children succumbing to measles reside in less than a quarter of the global population, mainly in very low-income countries.

While the highly contagious virus that causes rash was officially declared eliminated in the US more than 20 years ago, new outbreaks of the disease have continued to pop up in the country.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency on Tuesday also confirmed the first case of measles in Northern Ireland in seven years as cases have been rising across Great Britain and Ireland in recent weeks.

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