142.3 thousand people died from measles in the world last year, most of them children under five. UNICEF reports citing the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC).
It is noted that this is 18 thousand people more than a year earlier, although significantly less than in 2000, when 535 thousand people died from this disease in the world.
Compared to 2017, the number of cases of measles in the world in 2018 has increased significantly. The increasing tendency is observed this year.
Measles cases more than doubled in 2018 compared to 2017. While final data for 2019 is not yet available, interim reports indicate that the number of measles cases continues to be dangerously high. According to WHO, there were 353,236 reported cases in 2018 compared to the provisional reporting of over 413,000 cases by mid-November in 2019. An additional 250,000 cases were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019. Together, this marks a three-fold increase compared with this same time in 2018.
In Ukraine, since the start of the outbreak in 2017, over 115,000 people have been infected with 41 deaths, including 25 children. In 2018 alone, there were over 54,000 cases and 16 deaths.
In 2018, low vaccination coverage, and crowded living conditions created ideal conditions for the spread of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Poor vaccination coverage and large pockets of unvaccinated children have resulted in devastating measles outbreaks in many parts of the world – including in countries that had high coverage rates or had previously eliminated the disease. In some cases, conflict, security or a breakdown in services are making it hard to reach children in remote or hard-to-reach areas. In others, parents are not vaccinating their children due to complacency, mistrust or misinformation about vaccines. This year, for example, the United States reported its highest number of cases in 25 years, while four countries in Europe -- Albania, Czechia, Greece and the United Kingdom -- lost their measles elimination status in 2018 following protracted outbreaks.
“The unacceptable number of children killed last year by a wholly preventable disease is proof that measles anywhere is a threat to children everywhere,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “When children go unvaccinated in significant numbers, entire communities are at risk. We see that even today in remote places like in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where measles has killed more than 4,500 children under the age of five so far this year; or in Samoa, where a rapidly spreading measles outbreak has left many children ill and unable to go to school.”
Recall that in Ukraine in the first eight months of this year, more than 57 thousand people fell ill with measles. Since the summer of 2017, more than 115 thousand people have become sick with measles in Ukraine, 41 people have died from the disease.