The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe is sounding the alarm: In the first ten months of 2023, 30 times more measles cases were reported in the region than in the entire previous year.
More measles and diphtheria cases in Austria
Of the 54 member states in the region, which extends as far as Central Asia, over 30,000 measles cases were reported from 40 countries during this period. In comparison, only 941 cases were registered in the whole of 2022, the WHO office announced on Tuesday.
Kazakhstan and Russia with the most cases of measles
Kazakhstan and Russia were the hardest hit, with over 10,000 cases each. In Western Europe, the UK reported a total of 183 cases, which was the highest figure. Particularly alarming is the fact that there were 21,000 hospitalizations and five deaths during this period, according to WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge.
Measles vaccinations fell during the coronavirus pandemic
According to the WHO, measles vaccination rates have fallen during the coronavirus pandemic. Due to persistent immunity gaps and missed vaccinations, many people, including a larger number of children, have become susceptible to this potentially fatal disease. In the WHO Europe region alone, around 1.8 million infants were not vaccinated against measles between 2020 and 2022.
WHO in favor of measles vaccination campaigns
The Regional Office announced that it was all the more urgent to step up vaccination campaigns in order to prevent the disease from spreading again. All countries must be prepared to “recognize measles outbreaks quickly and respond in a timely manner”. Otherwise, the success of eradicating measles in Europe would be jeopardized.
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