Measles vaccination rates have experienced a gradual decline in various societies, partly attributed to the diminishing potency of drugs. This decline has had dire consequences, with a staggering 43 per cent increase in the death rate of measles patients in 2021, followed by an 18 per cent rise in 2022, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States on 16 November.
The report highlights that a concerning nine million individuals worldwide suffered from measles in 2022, resulting in the tragic loss of 136,000 lives. The infection spread to 37 countries, raising the spectre of a potential global pandemic. Despite being one of the most infectious diseases globally, measles is entirely preventable through vaccination. However, success in eradicating measles requires a minimum vaccination coverage of 95 per cent among the population.
Failure to complete the recommended vaccination schedule exposes individuals to the risk of measles infection. The disease primarily spreads through coughing and sneezing, prompting medical specialists to caution against contact with nasal and throat fluids and close proximity to infected individuals to prevent further transmission.
WHO records indicate that measles vaccination globally saved the lives of 56 million people between 2000 and 2021. Yet, the disease claimed 128,000 lives in 2021, with a majority being children under five years old who had not received vaccinations. Despite new health initiatives, only 83 per cent of newborns received measles vaccination by their first birthday in 2022. Unfortunately, the number of children lacking adequate measles vaccination is increasing annually due to declining vaccination coverage.
Public Health Department records reveal a measles pandemic in Myanmar in 2011 and 2012, with subsequent outbreaks occurring 15 times in 2013 among individuals aged 18 to 20. Health officials now administer measles vaccinations to children at nine months and 18 months to address this public health challenge, aiming to minimize measles infections in Southeast Asia by 2030.
In light of these alarming statistics and trends, there is an urgent need to expedite measles vaccination efforts, focusing on age-wise groups, to ensure comprehensive coverage and mitigate the potential for a widespread measles pandemic in the future. Thanks to the creativity and initiatives of medical scientists, various kinds of drugs have saved millions of people worldwide from outbreaks of pandemics several times. Now, everyone around the world needs vaccinations to fight measles without fail carefully.