Cases of measles are surging to alarmingly high levels around the globe, led by ten countries accounting for more than 74 per cent of the total increase, UNICEF has warned.
Amid warnings of “disastrous consequences” for children if the disease continues to spread unchecked, a worldwide survey by the UN children’s agency, Unicef, has said 98 countries reported more cases of measles in 2018 compared to 2017, eroding progress against this highly preventable deadly disease.
Ms Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director, said, “We have a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease – a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the last two decades.”
She stated, “These cases haven’t happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow.”
Ukraine, the Philippines and Brazil experienced the greatest increases in measles cases among the 10 countries worst affected.
In the Philippines, 12,736 measles cases and 203 deaths have been recorded so far this year, compared with 15,599 cases in the whole of 2018, it said.
Ms Fore said, “Measles may be the disease, but, all too often, the real infection is misinformation, mistrust and complacency. We must do more to accurately inform every parent, to help us safely vaccinate every child.”