The current context leaves too many children unprotected against this disease and others preventable by vaccination, the World Health Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stressed in a statement.
In this sense, they pointed out the interruptions related to SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes Covid-19, the growing inequalities in access to drugs and the diversion of resources from routine immunization.
The risk of large outbreaks increased as communities relaxed social distancing practices and other preventive measures put in place during the height of the current pandemic, the text described.
He added the millions of people displaced due to conflict and crisis, interruptions in routine vaccination and anti-Covid-19 injection services, lack of clean water and sanitation, and overcrowding.
Agencies are concerned that measles outbreaks could also herald new outbreaks of other diseases that don’t spread as quickly, the WHO and UNICEF stressed.
Apart from its direct effect on the body, which can be fatal, the measles virus weakens the immune system and makes the child more vulnerable to pneumonia and diarrhea, even months after measles infection among those who survive, they exemplified. .
“This is more than a dangerous and life-threatening disease and an early indication that there are gaps in our global immunization coverage that vulnerable children cannot afford,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.
She is encouraging that people in many communities are beginning to feel protected from Covid-19 to return to more social activities, she noted. But, she warned, doing it in places where children don’t get routine vaccinations creates the perfect storm for the spread of a disease like measles.
Last year, starting in April 2021, the entities highlighted 21 large and disturbing measles outbreaks recorded around the world, the largest in Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.
A significant number of infected cases were reported in Africa and the eastern Mediterranean region, although – they pointed out – the figures are likely to be higher, since the pandemic interrupted surveillance systems, with possible underreporting.
For many other conditions, the impact of these interruptions in immunization services will be felt for decades to come, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said.