A recent WHO report says that the first half of 2019 has recorded the highest cases of measles since 2006. Globally, 82% have received the first dose of measles and 69% have received the second dose—far from the 95% target WHO had set for 2020. The report states that Madagascar noted the highest outbreak (150,976), followed by Ukraine (84,394) and the Philippines (45,847). India ranked 4th and, according to WHO, has around 2.3 million children who remain unvaccinated for measles.
- Globally, 20 million children did not receive measles vaccination in 2018. India had the highest incidence rate—76.4 per million population—for measles amongst children under the age of one between July 2018 - June 2019.
- However, the overall number of children having the disease fell to 24,076 (January-June 2019) from 69,391 in 2018.
- A recent WHO-Unicef study also noted that vaccination rates for DPT and measles have remained stagnant at 86% since 2010.
- Vaccination rates must rise at a large scale, especially, in conflict ridden and poor areas—the worst-hit by plummeting vaccination rates.
- Else, given the migration from these regions to other countries, the problem of missing vaccination could truly become universal.
- Poor healthcare infrastructure and awareness, like in India’s case, also need to be tackled. Also, as the report notes, the ‘anti-vaxx’ propaganda is emerging as the biggest obstacle. Concrete steps to negate and curb the spread of such propaganda also need to be taken.
- Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
- Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020.
- WHO is the lead technical agency responsible for coordination of immunization and surveillance activities supporting all countries to achieve this goal.
- Measles is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth.
- Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.