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WHO Warns Of Rising Spread Of Measles

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) voiced an alarm on Tuesday, February 20, over the measles cases that have been rising so fast. Natasha Crowcroft, WHO's technical adviser on measles and rubella, who said Measles cases are significantly underreported noted that "We in the measles world are extremely concerned." In 2023 there were more than 306,000 cases globally, which is a 79 per cent rise from 2022. Measles is a viral infection that's serious for small children but is easily preventable by a vaccine. The disease spreads through the air by respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing. The UN health organization models the data every year to produce more precise numbers. In 2022, it projects 9.2 million cases and 136,216 measles fatalities.

Crowcroft reported a 43 per cent increase in deaths in 2022, despite the fact that modeling for the most recent year is still pending. She expected an increase in mortality in 2023 as a result of the growing number of cases.

She warned that over half of all countries globally are considered at high risk for measles outbreaks by year-end, adding that an estimated 142 million children are susceptible to illness.

Crowcroft said a major cause of the swelling numbers is the "backsliding immunization coverage."

At least 95 per cent of children need to be fully vaccinated against the disease in a locality to prevent outbreaks, but global vaccination rates have slipped to 83 per cent.