This decline puts millions of children at risk, warns a UNICEF global report.
The Covid pandemic has had many repercussions across the planet, but one directly places millions at risk. This is the very significant decline in vaccination coverage against measlesa life-threatening disease.
Ephrem Tekle Lemango, in charge of vaccination programs at Unicef, said in a press release on Wednesday:
For three years, we have been sounding the alarm about declining vaccination rates, and the increased health risk to children around the world.
Measles: “A tight window of opportunity”
And he added: “We have a tight shooting window to regain lost ground”. This concern is shared by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the WHO: “Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of a preventable disease”.
He blames “immunization programs”which “have been seriously affected” by the Covid pandemic. Judge for yourself: last year, no less than 40 million children missed a dose of vaccine (25 million in connection with the first dose, 14.7 million others with the second).
Vaccination coverage lowest since 2008
While the vaccination rate against this contagious disease is the lowest in nearly 15 years, the countries in which the largest number of unimmunized children live are: Nigeria, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia or Indonesia.
Other numbers? In 2021, there are an estimated 9 million cases of measles worldwide, for 128,000 deaths.
A rising number of deaths
Admittedly, on the one hand infections have decreased in number since the beginning of this century, but on the other hand that of estimated cases and deaths was higher in 2021 than in 2020.
Last April, the WHO warned that reported cases of measles had exploded by almost 80% since the start of 2022. Elizabeth Cousens, president of the United Nations Foundation, warns: “There is no time to waste, we must work urgently to ensure these lifesaving vaccines reach every child”.