Intended for healthcare professionals


Measles: alarming worldwide surge seriously threatens children, says UN

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 01 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l981
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

The number of measles cases around the world jumped by 48.4% last year and is still climbing quickly, the UN children’s agency Unicef has warned, blaming the rise on inadequate vaccine coverage caused partly by misinformation.

“This is a wake-up call,” said Henrietta Fore, Unicef’s executive director. “We have a safe, effective, and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease—a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the past two decades.

“These cases haven’t happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow.”

Some 98 countries saw a rise in measles cases in 2017-18, said Unicef, with 10 countries accounting for 74% of the increase. Ukraine, the Philippines, and Brazil saw the biggest jumps in …

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