Friday December 14, 2018

WHO Warns A Rise In The Number Of Measles Cases

They also warn the spread of falsehoods and misinformation.

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Measles, WHO
A health worker vaccinates a toddler against measles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. VOA
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The World Health Organization (WHO) warns a spike in the number of measles cases globally is putting hard won progress toward the elimination of this highly contagious, deadly disease at risk.

Measles immunizations have saved more than 21 million lives globally since 2000. But, unveiling a new report, the World Health Organization says multiple outbreaks of this killer disease since 2016 have caused an estimated 110,000 deaths in all regions of the globe.

In addition, WHO’s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, Martin Friede, says there has been a very worrying jump of more than 30 percent in reported measles cases worldwide.

Measles, WHO
Two sick children wait for treatment after being admitTed to a hospital in Agats, Asmat District, after the government dispatched military and medical personnel to the remote region of Papua to combat malnutrition and measles, Indonesia. VOA

“We are seeing sustained measles transmission in countries that had previously not seen measles transmission for many years. So, the countries had eliminated measles, but it has now been re-established in the country. This is very worrying. This suggests that we are actually regressing in certain cases,” Friede said.

The report finds the Americas, the eastern Mediterranean region, and Europe have experienced the greatest surges in cases, with the western Pacific the only region where the number of cases has fallen.

But, it notes the biggest increases continue to be in areas with low immunization coverage where measles is endemic. For instance, the report finds a two-fold rise in cases of the disease in Africa.

Measles, WHO
A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet is seen at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Feb.26, 2015. VOA

Health officials attribute the growth of measles cases to a sense of complacency, especially in industrialized countries where the disease has not been seen for many years.

Also Read: Europe Suffers From A Severe Measles Outbreak

They also warn the spread of falsehoods and misinformation, such as the debunked link between measles vaccinations and autism, discourages many parents from immunizing their children against the disease. (VOA)

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Road Traffic Accidents Cause 1.35 Mn Deaths Each Year: WHO

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

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Traffic Crashes, Road Traffic
Two bikes were involved in an accident with a bus that crashed and turned on its roof near the town of Franschhoek, South Africa, March 7, 2015. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for urgent action to put a brake on road traffic crashes that kill 1.35 million people every year, mostly in poor developing countries.

In Geneva, the U.N. agency launched its global status report on road safety 2018.

The report found road traffic injuries to be the leading killer of children and young people aged five to 29 years, with a death occurring every 24 seconds. The report said more than half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders and passengers.

Etienne Krug, head of the U.N. Agency’s Department on Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, called these deaths a huge inequality issue.

Traffic Signals, Road Traffic
Traffic and congestion on roads is frequent in all cities of India. Wikimedia

“Low-income countries have one percent of the vehicles in the world and 13 percent of all the deaths; while high-income countries have 40 percent of all the vehicles,” Krug said. “So, that is 40 times more, but only seven percent of the deaths.That is half of the deaths with 40 times more vehicles.”

The report said death rates are highest in Africa and lowest in Europe. Some of the key risk factors include speeding, drinking and driving, and failure to use seat belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints.

Krug said putting the right measures in place will save lives. These include the right legislation and enforcement, creating special lanes for cyclists and improving the quality of vehicles.

Road accidents in India
Road accidents in India. Pixabay

“It is not acceptable that vehicles are being sold in developing countries that look the same as the vehicles that we see here in Switzerland or the U.S. or anywhere else, but that are not,” Krug told VOA. “Because to make them cheaper, they have been stripped of all of their safety features, such as air bags or electronic stability control, etc.”

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

Also Read: HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly in Pakistan: WHO

However, it said no such progress has been made in low-income countries where safety measures are lacking. (VOA)