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Action stressed to avert measles, polio epidemics

Action stressed to avert measles, polio epidemics

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7 Nov 2020 - 11:20
Action stressed to avert measles, polio epidemics
author avatar
7 Nov 2020 - 11:20

KABUL Organization (WHO) on Saturday called for action to avert major measles and polio epidemics.

The call comes as COVID-19 continues to disrupt immunisation services worldwide, leaving millions of vulnerable children at heightened risk of preventable diseases. 

A joint statement from the two organisations estimated that $655 million ($400 million for polio and $255 million for measles) were needed to address dangerous immunity gaps in non-Gavi eligible countries and target age groups.   

The WHO director-general said: “COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on health services and in particular immunisation services, worldwide.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “But unlike with COVID, we have the tools and knowledge to stop diseases such as polio and measles.

“What we need are the resources and commitments to put these tools and knowledge into action. If we do that, children’s lives will be saved.”

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said: “We cannot allow the fight against one deadly disease to cause us to lose ground in the fight against other diseases.”

She stressed addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic was critical. However, she noted, other deadly diseases also threatened the lives of millions of children in some of the poorest areas of the world.

“That is why today we are urgently calling for global action from country leaders, donors and partners. We need additional financial resources to safely resume vaccination campaigns and prioritise immunisation systems that are critical to protect children and avert other epidemics besides COVID-19.”

Measles vaccination coverage gaps have been further exacerbated in 2020 by COVID-19. In 2019, measles climbed to the highest number of new infections in more than two decades.

Annual measles mortality data for 2019 to be released next week will show the continued negative toll that sustained outbreaks are having in many countries around the world.

At the same time, poliovirus transmission is expected to increase in Pakistan and in many under-immunised areas of Africa.

Failure to eradicate polio now would lead to global resurgence of the disease, resulting in as many as 200,000 new cases annually, within 10 years. 

Afghanistan is in the grip of a measles outbreak, with 10,773 cases reported and 53 cases of polio approximately 2.5 million children are missing polio drops in every round due to access issue.



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