WHO Warns that Measles Cases Surged by 79 percent Worldwide Last Year


The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed deep concern over the swift proliferation of measles, noting a global tally of over 306,000 cases reported last year, marking a 79-percent surge from 2022.

Natasha Crowcroft, a WHO technical adviser on measles and rubella, emphasized the alarming situation, highlighting that measles cases are typically vastly under-reported, suggesting that the actual number is significantly higher.

The UN health agency employs modelling techniques to estimate figures, indicating 9.2 million cases and 136,216 measles-related deaths in 2022. Although such modelling hasn’t been completed for the following year, Crowcroft noted a 43-percent increase in deaths in 2022 compared to the previous year.

With the escalating case numbers, she anticipated a rise in fatalities in 2023 as well, terming the forthcoming period as “very challenging.” More than half of all countries globally are currently assessed to be at high risk of measles outbreaks by the year’s end.

An estimated 142 million children are at risk of contracting measles, a highly contagious disease primarily affecting children. Severe complications can include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhea, and severe respiratory infections.

One significant factor contributing to the rising numbers is declining immunization coverage. According to Crowcroft, at least 95 percent of children require full vaccination to prevent outbreaks, but global vaccination rates have dropped to 83 percent.

There is significant inequality in both the distribution of measles cases and deaths. Crowcroft highlighted that 92 percent of all measles-related deaths occur in regions housing less than a quarter of the global population, primarily in very low-income countries.

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