Health authorities have sounded a warning over rising numbers of measles cases, with new data showing more than 140,000 people died from measles in 2018.
New estimates published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) this week show that in 2018, there were 9,769,400 estimated measles cases and 142,300 related deaths around the world last year, up from 7,585,900 estimated cases and 124,000 estimated deaths in 2017.
The data show Sub-Saharan Africa, where many children have persistently missed out on vaccination, was the region worst affected. The most affected countries were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine, which together accounted for almost half of all measles cases worldwide. The United States also reported its highest number of cases in 25 years. Four countries in Europe - Albania, Czechia, Greece and the United Kingdom - lost their measles elimination status in 2018 following protracted outbreaks of the disease.
"This latest data show that we are unfortunately backsliding in our progress against an easily-preventable disease: measles,” said Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “But we can turn the tide against these outbreaks through collective action."