The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has said that global measles cases increased by 48.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018.
According to figures released by UNICEF, 10 countries, including Brazil, the Philippines and France, accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total increase in cases of measles in 2018.
The UN’s agency for children said the alarming global surge in measles cases posed a growing threat to children.
The agency added that poor health infrastructure, low awareness, civil disorder, complacency and a backlash against vaccinations in some cases were driving forces in these recent measles outbreaks.
UNICEF’s executive director, Mrs Henrietta Fore, “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.”
According to UNICEF, 98 countries saw an increase in measles cases in 2018 around the globe. It also stressed that there were several countries that reported no measles cases in 2017 but saw the disease make a comeback in 2018.
UNICEF’s principal adviser and chief of immunisation officer, Dr Robin Nandy, said, “It is very unfortunate to see measles coming back as a public health problem. I would be very disappointed if we are not worried about this. If we don’t do something about it now it could get considerably worse.
“The key message is that no country or community is immune to this. These figures show that if vaccine usage and coverage is not picked up, other countries and communities remain susceptible to measles,” Nandy said.
The World Health Organisation said the virus is common in developing countries particularly in areas of Africa.