Immunization gaps threaten gains on measles
MANILA -- Measles outbreaks in the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region are putting babies, children and young people at risk and threatening progress towards wiping out the disease.
The region had historically low levels of measles cases and no major outbreaks in 2017. This landmark decline was achieved through steady efforts to vaccinate all children against measles, but last year, measles cases in the region increased by 250 percent, and more than two-thirds of the cases were in the Philippines.
So far this year, the Philippines has reported 23,000 cases with 333 deaths — already more than all of last year. Tragically, most of the cases were among children younger than five years old.
Measles can cause debilitating complications, including encephalitis, severe diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections, and permanent vision loss.
“In recent months, we’ve seen how swiftly and easily measles can make a comeback in communities where not enough children have been immunized,” WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai said.