250 Afghan kids died of
measles in 15 months: WHO

KABUL (Tolo News): The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Afghanistan has been experiencing a measles resurgence that started at the beginning of 2021. According to WHO, from January 2021 to 13 March 2022, there have been 48,366 cases and 250 deaths. In 2022 alone, there have been over 18,000 cases and 142 children have died of measles in the country.
The WHO report said the low routine measles immunization coverage of 66%, and longer intervals since the measles follow-up campaign (2018), have resulted in accumulation of the high number of children aged less than 5 years old with no measles immunization. WHO said that the rise in the cases of measles is because of the high level of malnutrition in the country.
“The rise in measles cases in Afghanistan is especially concerning because of the extremely high levels of malnutrition. Malnutrition weakens immunity, making people more vulnerable to illness and death from diseases like measles – especially children,” said Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO Representative in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) says the plan is for more than 1.2 million children aged 6-59 months to be vaccinated during the ongoing measles vaccination campaign in Afghanistan.
“This measles immunization campaign is part of the national response measure to stop the spread of the outbreak, save lives of the young children and reduce the burden on health systems,” said Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO Representative in Afghanistan.
According to WHO, around 9,200 health workers, volunteers, supervisors, and monitors are mobilized to cover 49 districts in 24 provinces in a week-long campaign scheduled 12 – 17 March 2022. The WHO Representative in Afghanistan askes every parent to bring their kids for vaccination.
“I appeal to every parent to bring your kids for vaccination and give them the best gift of being protected from life-threatening but preventable disease. I also appeal to everyone to protect the health workers; they are protecting your children and it is your duty to ensure their safety,” said Dr Luo Dapeng.
Measles is an extremely contagious viral disease. Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk. Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by other diseases, the report said.
The best way to protect people – especially children – from measles is to strengthen routine immunization to ensure that at least 95% of their population has received two doses of the vaccine, said WHO.