Measles cases surge in Africa, worldwide, post-COVID

October 25, 2022

Measles cases surge in Africa, worldwide, post-COVIDHospitals in remote parts of Africa and more ran out of measles vaccines during the frenzy of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving millions of children unprotected against one of the world’s most contagious diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that the slip has caused 26 large or disruptive measles outbreaks around the globe, what health experts say is the biggest backslide in a generation.

Measles is extremely transmissible – a single measles patient has the potential to spread the disease to between 12 and 18 others. It causes a high fever, cough, and a tell-tale rash; in pregnant women, it raises the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.

The virus killed around 2 million children every year before the introduction of a vaccine in the 1960s; and now, due to the slump in immunisations, cases are once again resurging in countries where measles has long been eradicated, including the US and Europe.

There have been more than 45,000 reported cases in Africa this year, killing more than 2,300 people. That is double the number of cases at this time last year, when some lingering social distancing measures may have slowed infections. African health systems remain especially vulnerable due to a lack of funds and manpower, particularly in areas where conflict and malnutrition make children more vulnerable to deadly infection.

Despite rapidly depleting resources and no means for funding, the WHO had outlined 15 vaccination campaigns that should be starting in Africa in 2022 and 2023 – but an October update showed that only three of these campaigns had specific start dates, while the rest were unclear.

“Our current resources won’t be enough should countries step up their requests for funding needed to respond to the increasing number of measles outbreaks,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said.


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