A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals a concerning 43% increase in global measles deaths from 2021 to 2022. This surge follows years of declining vaccination rates. The report highlights that 37 countries faced significant or disruptive measles outbreaks in 2022, a notable increase from 22 countries in the previous year. Among the nations grappling with outbreaks, 28 were in the WHO Region for Africa, six in the Eastern Mediterranean, two in South-East Asia, and one in the European Region.
Measles, a highly contagious viral disease, poses severe health risks and can lead to complications and fatalities. The virus spreads easily through respiratory droplets from an infected person. The report emphasizes the preventability of measles through two doses of the vaccine. Despite a modest rise in global vaccination coverage in 2022 compared to 2021, approximately 33 million children missed a measles vaccine dose, with 22 million missing the first dose and an additional 11 million missing the second dose. The global vaccine coverage rates for the first and second doses, at 83% and 74%, respectively, fall significantly below the 95% threshold necessary to safeguard communities from outbreaks. Low-income countries, with the highest measles death risk, continue to exhibit the lowest vaccination rates at only 66%, indicating no recovery from the pandemic-induced regression, according to the report. Notably, over half of the 22 million children missing their first measles vaccine dose in 2022 reside in 10 countries: Angola, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines.