Vaccination campaigns The number of reported measles infections has increased by nearly 80 percent worldwide in the first two months of this year. UN organizations are calling on countries to restart their basic vaccination campaigns after the corona pandemic.
Wafa Al Ali

The number of reported measles infections increased by nearly 80 percent worldwide in the first two months of this year. That’s what the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef reported Wednesday. The UN organizations say millions of children are at risk of vaccine-preventable disease this year.

There were 17,338 reported cases of measles in January and February, up from 9,665 cases in the first two months of 2021. According to WHO and UNICEF, the corona pandemic has caused a global interruption in regular vaccination campaigns. At the same time, they see that money that had been set aside for basic vaccinations was spent on other things at the last minute.

UN agencies counted nearly 60 delayed vaccination campaigns against preventable diseases in more than 40 countries in April this year; a third of these delayed campaigns would have targeted measles. With corona rules, such as keeping your distance and wearing a mouth mask, scaled back in many countries, UN agencies fear more outbreaks of other infectious diseases.

Conflict zones
These fears are heightened by wars and conflicts currently raging, such as in Ukraine, Somalia and Afghanistan. Millions of people fleeing hearth and home have difficulty getting young children vaccinated. Refugees also often live close together in unsanitary refugee camps and other housing.

In the first year of the coronapandemic, 23 million children were reportedly not administered basic vaccinations, the highest number since 2009. “This is the time to get essential immunization back on track and launch catch-up campaigns so that everyone has access to life-saving vaccines,” said WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be deadly. The disease weakens the immune system, making infected children in particular more susceptible to other diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea. The countries most affected are those that have suffered the most socially and economically from the pandemic, the organizations write.