Nigeria among six nations with measles cases, deaths – Reports

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A joint publication by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has highlighted an alarming rise in measles cases, disruptive outbreaks and deaths in 2022.

The report, released yesterday, revealed that of the 22 million children who missed their first measles vaccine dose in 2022, over half live in just 10 countries, six of which are lower-income countries vis-a vis Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

Measles cases globally in 2022 are reported to have increased by 18 per cent to over nine million, as deaths went up by 43 per cent (136,200) compared to 2021, while 37 countries experienced outbreaks in 2022.

The findings reiterate the continued need for accelerated efforts to support recovery from the pandemic and strengthen health systems, especially in the lower income countries most impacted by this deadly disease.

Reacting, Aurélia Nguyen, Chief Programme Officer at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said: “Measles is a highly contagious and deadly disease; preventing outbreaks requires consistently vaccinating at least 95 per cent of eligible children. This was already challenging before the pandemic and with cases, outbreaks and preventable deaths rising so sharply due to increased immunity gaps related to the pandemic, it shows how even more important it is that our Alliance provides an unprecedented level of support to countries in 2024.”

With routine immunisation hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2023 Gavi supported nine lower-income countries in accelerated efforts to plan and rollout out measles and measles-rubella follow-up campaigns, and disbursed over US$12 million to support outbreak response in six countries. An additional three preventive campaigns are planned before the end of this year.

In response to the sustained and alarming trend in measles cases, in 2024 Gavi will support a record number of lower-income countries – at least 15 in total – to undertake measles and rubella preventive campaigns aiming to reach about 38.5 million children, in addition to introductions and outbreak response.

The Vaccine Alliance supports measles immunisation activities in lower-income countries in close collaboration with WHO, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), CDC, American Red Cross, UN Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other partners, including through the Measles & Rubella Partnership.

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