Around 2.9 million children in India do not get vaccinated against measles, a highly contagious viral disease that claims nearly 90,000 lives globally every year, a new report published today by leading health organisations said.
The world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals as around 20.8 million children are still missing their first measles vaccine dose, it said.
More than half of these unvaccinated children live in six countries — Nigeria (3.3 million), India (2.9 million), Pakistan (2.0 million), Indonesia (1.2 million), Ethiopia (0.9 million) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (0.7 million), the report said.
In 2016, an estimated 90 000 people died from measles, recording an 84 per cent drop from more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. “Saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through measles vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime,” said Dr Robert Linkins of the Measles and Rubella Initiative (MR&I).
Linkins is also the branch chief of the Accelerated Disease Control and Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
M&RI is a partnership formed in 2001 of the American Red Cross, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, and WHO.
This marks the first time global measles deaths have fallen below 100,000 per year, said the report by the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gavi-The Vaccine Alliance. “We have seen a substantial drop in measles deaths for more than two decades, but now we must strive to reach zero measles cases,” said Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, Director of the WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals. “Measles elimination will only be reached if measles vaccines reach every child, everywhere,” Bele said.