Number of measles cases in 2019 is the highest in 23 years

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In March last year, Brazil lost its measles-free country certification, conferred by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and won in 2016. We are not alone in this: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of children infected by the disease in 2019 was the highest in 23 years. Worse, global measles deaths have increased by almost 50% since 2016, reaching 207,500 lives (almost 25% of cases recorded last year).

This and other data are contained in a study now published by WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the survey, the fight against measles advanced between 2010 and 2016. From then on, the number of notifications began to rise progressively, thanks mainly to failures in vaccination coverage.

“We know how to prevent measles, but this data shows that we are not managing to do that,” said WHO director general, doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

To prevent outbreaks from happening, WHO estimates that 95% of the population in a community needs to be immunized. However, since 2016 vaccination coverage has not increased: that of the first dose of the vaccine (MCV1, whose main target is children under one year old) has been stagnating globally for more than a decade at 85%, while that of MCV2 (for children of 15 months) has increased, but is still at 71%.

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