WHO reports measles setback in Europe as infections reach 90,000

The headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) is pictured in Geneva [Photo Credit: VOANEWS]

Measles infections in Europe have surged to around 90,000 cases in the first half of 2019, more than all of 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported on Thursday.

Guenter Pfaff, a Senior German Health Official, who heads a WHO Advisory Panel on measles, disclosed this in Geneva.

Four countries – Albania, Britain, Greece and the Czech Republic – have lost their measles-free status, the Geneva-based agency said.

The agency warned that Europe was falling behind in its efforts to eradicate the preventable but potentially dangerous virus.

“If high immunisation coverage is not achieved and sustained in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will tragically die,” said Mr Pfaff.

Measles claimed 37 lives in Europe between January and June.

Nearly 80 per cent of infections in that period occurred in the four Eastern European countries of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Russia.

European case numbers multiplied in recent years from 5,000 in 2016 to 26,000 in 2017 and to 84,000 in 2018.

The WHO links the current rise with countries’ failure to achieve blanket immunisation across their territories.

Outbreaks also occur because health authorities do not reach all population groups equally, the UN health agency added, referring to two studies on measles among the Roma minorities in France and Greece.



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