Ten countries, including Brazil, the Philippines and France, accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total increase in measles cases in 2018, according to figures released by the UN agency for HIV. ;childhood.
This "alarming" increase in measles cases worldwide is a "growing" threat to children, UNICEF said.
Poor health infrastructure, low awareness, civil unrest, complacency and brutal reaction against vaccinations in some cases have been the driving forces in these recent measles outbreaks, according to the agency.
"These cases did not happen overnight," said Henrietta H. Fore, executive director of UNICEF. "At a time when the serious outbreaks we are witnessing today have unleashed in 2018, the lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for tomorrow's children."
The Ukraine, the Philippines and Brazil experienced the largest increase in the number of cases of the disease, according to UNICEF, which analyzed measles cases recorded by the WHO.
Ukraine had the largest increase, with 35,120 cases in 2018 – up 634% from 4,782 in 2017.
Brazil has not had measles cases in 2017, but 10,262 have been reported in 2018. Yemen, Venezuela, Serbia, Madagascar, Sudan, Thailand and France have experienced the largest increases. important.
Measles is a respiratory disease characterized by high fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis or pink eye and rash.
The virus is one of the most contagious diseases, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He can live in the air until two hours after an infected person coughs or sneezes.
There is no specific treatment for measles, which makes vaccination a "vital tool for children," said UNICEF.
Worldwide, 98 countries have experienced an increase in the number of measles cases in 2018, said UNICEF.
The agency also pointed out that several countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru, had not reported any cases of measles in 2017, but had seen the disease come back. last year.
"It is very unfortunate to see the return of measles as a public health problem," said Robin Nandy, senior adviser and chief immunization officer at UNICEF. He added that the upward trend in measles is "almost everywhere in the world".
Nandy said that these results are "absolutely" a source of concern. "I would be very disappointed if we do not worry about that," he said. If we do not do anything about it now, "it could become considerably worse".
The key message is that "no country or community is immune to that," Nandy said. These numbers show that if the use and coverage of the vaccine are not detected, other countries and communities remain susceptible to measles.
Outbreaks in the United States
In the United States, the number of measles cases is high at 791 in 2018, up from 120 in 2017, an increase of 559%, according to UNICEF.
The congressional hearing focused on discussions on current measles outbreak response efforts and on measles, mumps and rubella or MMR vaccination rates recommended in the country.