Measles in Europe: infection rates highest in a decade, says UN health agency

UNICEF/Heather Papowitz A girl being vaccinated against measles. Photo: UNICEF/Heather Papowitz

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Although more children than ever before are being vaccinated against measles across Europe, overall infection rates are the highest in a decade, and a three-fold increase on last year, according to new data published on Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2018, measles killed 72 children and adults in the European Region, which consists of 53 countries, including Azerbaijan, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Close to 82,600 people in 47 of those 53 countries contracted the virus, representing the highest number of annual cases in the past decade: three times the total reported in 2017, and 15 times the record low, reported in 2016.

The biggest hotspot by far, is Ukraine with 53,218 reported cases in 2018, followed by Serbia with 5,076, Israel with 2,919, France with 2,913 and Italy with 2,517.

This surge in measles cases last year coincided with more children than ever before receiving their full two-dose vaccination in 2017, showing an estimated 90 per cent immunization coverage – the highest since records began in 2000. Coverage with just the first dose of the vaccine also increased slightly to 95 per cent, the highest level since 2013.

Forty-three European countries interrupted transmission of endemic measles for at least 12 months as of the end of 2017, showing that elimination of the disease is well within reach for the whole region.

WHO explained that this seeming contradiction between the record numbers of those being protected, as well as contracting the disease, can be explained by the fact that vaccination rates nationally, are not matched by major immunization gaps at a regional and local level.

“The picture for 2018 makes it clear that the current pace of progress in raising immunization rates will be insufficient to stop measles circulation,” said Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, Director of WHO’s Regional Office for Europe. “While data indicate exceptionally high immunization coverage at regional level, they also reflect a record number affected and killed by the disease”.

“Progress in achieving high national coverage is commendable,” added Dr. Nedret Emiroglu, who heads the Division of Health Emergencies and Communicable Diseases for WHO Europe. “However, it cannot make us blind to the people and places that are still being missed. It is here that we must now concentrate increased efforts. We should never become complacent about our successes but continue to strive to reach the final mile. Together we can make this happen,” he stressed.

To prevent outbreaks and eliminate measles, WHO says countries need to sustain at least 95 per cent of national and sub-national immunization coverage with two doses of measles vaccine, as well as identify and target all pockets of under-immunization among their populations. This will ensure protection for everyone – including babies too young to be vaccinated and others who cannot be immunized due to existing diseases and medical conditions.

WHO has developed a European Vaccine Action Plan for 2015 to 2020, which lays out a strategy endorsed by all the region’s 53 Member States to eliminate both measles and rubella.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Why I stopped taking the lift

A Europe that protects: Continued efforts needed on security priorities

Refugee crisis update: EU still lacks solidarity as Hungary and Slovakia refuse to accept EU Court’s decision

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

Climate change update: will the UN member states regain momentum despite the little progress at COP23?

UN rights chief calls for international inquiry into Kashmir violations

Political power of women suffering ‘serious regression’, General Assembly President warns

What is the UN General Assembly and what does it do?

Trade, entrepreneurship and the future of ASEAN’s economy

3 things to know about women in STEM

Five ways to increase trust in e-commerce

5 futuristic ways to fight cyber attacks

Syria’s groundbreaking constitutional talks: ‘a clear success of mediation’ says Guterres in Turkey

The 8 pieces of digital DNA we need to thrive in the AI age

COVID-19 sparked an economic crisis ‘like no other’ – but these measures can help now: WHO, IMF

Governments should renew efforts to reform support to agriculture

EU-US relations on the dawn of the Trump era

What slums can teach us about building the cities of the future

The JADE Spring Conference 2017 is casting its shadows before

The economic effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus around the world

Changing world of work needs new jobs strategy

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “You just don’t know if the oil price will be 20$ or 100$ in the next 2-3 years!” top Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff underscores from Davos

Movius @ MWC14: Discussing novel Communications Applications over a “CAFÉ”

Data protection: Commission decides to refer Greece and Spain to the Court for not transposing EU law

How do you get people to trust self-driving vehicles? This company is giving them ‘virtual eyes’

Ending extreme poverty crucial to sustainable future for all: UN chief

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s speech from World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of New Champions

Digital distrust: We’re losing faith in technology to solve the world’s problems

A pandemic of solidarity? This is how people are supporting one another as coronavirus spreads

Opening – EP remembers Nelson Mandela and mourns attacks on Roma in Ukraine

At UN, France’s Macron says more ‘political courage’ is needed to face global challenges

EU: Centralised economic governance and bank supervision may lead to new crisis

The art of care goes beyond borders: one has to understand the individual as a whole

These 2 teenagers have helped change the law on plastic pollution in Indonesia

Parliament commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz 75 years ago

75 years after Auschwitz liberation, antisemitism still threatens ‘foundations of democratic societies’

The COP24 Agreement: Yes, it happened at last

Huawei answers allegations about its selling prices

Food safety: New rules to boost consumer trust approved by MEPs

How China raised the stakes for electric vehicles

10 things you – and your government – should know about competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The refugee crisis as a young Nigerian doctor sees it

‘The time for action is now’ senior UN peacekeeping official says, urging support for regional force combating Sahel terrorism

Canada needs to increase foreign aid flows in line with its renewed engagement

EU deal on electricity market rules to benefit both consumers and environment

Sydney is choking on record levels of smog – and the bushfire season is just getting started

European Solidarity Corps: Commission opens new call for project proposals

A day in the life of a refugee: why should we care?

“CETA is a game changer for major trade agreements”. The Sting reports live from EBS 2015

How ducks are helping Bangladeshi farmers cope with cyclones

Vaccine against Ebola: Commission grants first-ever market authorisation

Should we be worried about third-hand smoke?

This man is turning cities into giant sponges to save lives

Infringements: Commission adapts its calculation methodology for financial sanctions

EU Top Jobs summit ended with no agreement: welcome to Europe’s quicksand!

Will the outcome of the UK referendum “calm” the financial markets?

Minority governments ‘à la mode’ in Europe but can they last long?

Somalia advancing towards ‘inclusive and peaceful future’ for women, deputy UN chief

South Sudan: ‘Horrific acts’ by government may constitute ‘war crimes’ says UN, demanding justice

North Macedonia President, credits dialogue and diplomacy for setting a decades-long ‘name dispute’

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s