A new report published yesterday by leading health organizations has revealed that Nigeria tops the list of countries with far too many children – 20.8 million – still missing their first measles vaccine dose. In the world, more than half of 20.8 million unvaccinated children live in six countries: Nigeria (3.3 million), India (2.9 million), Pakistan (2.0 million), Indonesia (1.2 million), Ethiopia (0.9 million), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (0.7 million).
The health organisations include the Measles and Rubella Initiative (MR&I), the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Foundation, United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The latest data is published in this week’s WHO’s Weekly Epidemiological Report and in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.According to the report, despite 84 percent drop in deaths caused by measles in 16 years, not less than 90,000 people died of the disease last year.
“In 2016, an estimated 90,000 people died from measles – an 84 percent drop from more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This marks the first time global measles deaths have fallen below 100,000 per year.” According to the report, since measles is a highly contagious viral disease, large outbreaks continue to occur in these and other countries in Europe and North America, putting children at risk of severe health complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, encephalitis, blindness, and death.
To address this anomaly in Nigeria and protect more children as the country approaches the peak period of measles infection, The Guardian reliably gathered that the Federal Government, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), might begin a nationwide measles immunisation campaign next week. Dry season, between November and March, is the peak period for the measles epidemic.