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Measles Vaccination Saves 20 Million Young Lives – UN Report
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A report by the United Nations health agencies has revealed that measles jab had saved more than 20 million young lives in the past 15 years but hundreds of children are still dying of the disease every day.

According to the report, despite a 79% worldwide decrease in measles deaths between 2000 and 2015, nearly 400 children still die from the disease every day.

The UNICEF Immunisation Chief, Robin Nandy, said making measles history is not mission impossible.

“We have the tools and the knowledge to do it; what we lack is the political will to reach every single child, no matter how far. Without this commitment, children will continue to die from a disease that is easy and cheap to prevent,” he said.

According to UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mass measles vaccination campaigns and a global increase in routine measles vaccination coverage saved an estimated 20.3 million young lives from 2000 to 2015.

The report noted that progress has been uneven indicating that in 2015, about 20 million infants missed their measles shots and an estimated 134,000 children died from the disease.

It revealed that the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan account for half of the unvaccinated infants and 75% of the measles deaths.

Millions of children still miss vaccination

The Director of WHO’s Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, said it is not acceptable that millions of children miss their vaccines every year.

“We have a safe and highly effective vaccine to stop the spread of measles and save lives.

“This year, the region of the Americas was declared free of measles, proof that elimination is possible. Now, we must stop measles in the rest of the world. It starts with vaccination,” Dr. Okwo-Bele said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, Dr Seth Berkley, added that measles is a key indicator of the strength of a country’s immunisation systems and all too often, it ends up being the canary in the coalmine with outbreaks acting as the first warning of deeper problems.

Strengthen surveillance systems

“To address one of the world’s deadliest vaccine-preventable childhood killers, we need strong commitments from countries and partners to boost routine immunisation coverage and to strengthen surveillance systems,” he stated.

The report said measles, a highly contagious viral disease that spreads through direct contact and through the air, is one of the leading causes of death among young children globally. It can be prevented with two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.

It said measles outbreaks in numerous countries caused by gaps in routine immunisation and in mass vaccination campaigns continued to be a serious challenge.

In 2015, large outbreaks were reported in Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.

It noted that the outbreaks in Germany and Mongolia affected older persons, highlighting the need to vaccinate adolescents and young adults who have no protection against measles.

The report said measles also tend to flare up in countries in conflict or humanitarian emergencies due to the challenges of vaccinating every child.

It recounted that last year, outbreaks were reported in Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.

It said measles elimination in four of six WHO regions were the global target at the midpoint of the Global Vaccine Action Plan implementation.

Source: Daily Heritage

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