Measles end 140,000 lives last year | Eurasia Diary -

20 September,

Measles end 140,000 lives last year

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As the number of measles cases continued to soar, more than 140,000 people across the globe died from measles last year, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, Eurasia Diary reports citing CNN.

Most deaths were among children younger than 5, according to WHO.

The number of deaths last year was an increase from the estimated 110,000 measles-related deaths that occurred in 2017, based on WHO data.

The new report, released on Thursday, was based on public health data from the WHO, CDC and the United Nations Children's Fund. Even though the global numbers of measles cases and deaths have declined in two decades, there is more work needed before the measles viruses can be eliminated worldwide.

"I'm not so much surprised as I'm disappointed," Dr. Robin Nandy, principal adviser and chief of immunization at UNICEF, said of the report's findings.

Nandy added that the best way to prevent measles from spreading is to get vaccinated against the virus, but levels of vaccination coverage recently have stalled in "almost all" regions of the world, according to the report.

"We shouldn't be in this position in 2019 when we have had a safe and inexpensive vaccine for decades," he said. "We're seeing outbreaks in very different contexts and different types of countries ... irrespective of income level of country."

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus, which can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or if someone comes into direct contact or shares germs by touching the same surfaces. Measles symptoms may include high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash of red spots.

The World Health Organization's Global Vaccine Action Plan, which the World Health Assembly endorsed in 2012, calls for the elimination of measles by next year in at least five of six regions of the world: African region, region of the Americas, south-east Asia region, European region, Eastern Mediterranean region, and Western Pacific region.

"The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world's most vulnerable children," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said in a press release that accompanied the new report.

"To save lives, we must ensure everyone can benefit from vaccines - which means investing in immunization and quality health care as a right for all," he said.

The report estimated that during 2000 to 2018, measles vaccination averted about 23.2 million deaths.

The report found that the estimated number of measles deaths decreased 73% globally, falling from 535,600 in 2000 to 142,300 deaths in 2018.

The report also found that, during that same time period, the number of reported measles cases dropped 59%, from 853,479 to 353,236 cases, and measles incidence decreased 66%.

Yet in just the past couple of years, between 2016 and 2018, the reported number of cases and incidence actually increased, rising from 132,413 cases in 2016. Compared with 2016, the number of measles cases increased 167% globally, according to the report.

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