Cases of measles around the world doubled last year, with the main cause being the failure to vaccinate.
According to new projections by the World Health Organization (WHO) last week, the number of reported measles cases for 2018 is expected to be over 50 per cent higher than in 2017, when there were 170,000 cases reported.
With the data proving there has been a substantial increase in measles cases, and much of the progress of the last 20 years being lost, it’s clear that something has caused this shift. And that something is the failure to vaccinate.
As reported by IFL Science, the current number of measles cases for 2018 stands at over 229,000 – but this is just the provisional number and the final figure is expected to be double that of 2017.
Measles is a highly contagious (but preventable) viral disease, which symptoms include a high fever, characteristic red rash, and bloodshot eyes – among other symptoms.
Routine vaccinations for children are key in reducing the number of deaths caused by measles. But with people trusting vaccinations less and less, many are failing to vaccinate their children.
Vaccine-preventable diseases include:
Here are 5 facts on vaccines you need to know pic.twitter.com/T5uZFZeLzT
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 18, 2019
WHO’s Director of Immunisation and Vaccines, Professor Katherine O’Brien, said in a press conference on February 14 that the world is now ‘backsliding’ in its attempts to stop the spread of measles.
Our data are showing that there is a substantial increase in measles cases. We’re seeing this in all regions, this is not an isolated problem. A measles outbreak anywhere is a measles problem everywhere.
Viruses and other germs don’t have passports, they don’t care about geographic borders… They are agnostic to our political and geographical environments.
And with fewer than 10 per cent of measles cases being reported, the real figure is actually ‘in the millions’ and will never be known.
While measles deaths worldwide reduced by 80 per cent between 2000 and 2017 – all thanks to vaccinations – this progress is now being slowly reversed. With approximately 136,000 deaths as a result of measles last year alone, O’Brien was clear that there are serious health threats to not vaccinating.
So why aren’t we doing it? WHO describes the vaccine as ‘safe, effective and inexpensive’, yet there is a growing distrust of vaccinations which the organisation says are based on ‘pure misinformation’.
Professor O’Brien continued:
The level of misinformation – the world that we live in now – is causing threats to that success in many parts of the world. There has been an enormous bout of misinformation that has caused damage to the measles effort.
The increases are also being fuelled by outbreaks across the world, including Ukraine, Sierra Leone, the US, and western Europe.
With more than double the number of measles cases last year, it’s clear that the failure to vaccinate is having a detrimental impact on people’s health.
The figures don’t lie; whatever you do, please vaccinate your kids.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).