New York: Nearly 2.9 million children in India still remain without vaccination against measles, which continues to take the lives of nearly 90,000 people per year worldwide, according to a new report by leading health organisations.
In 2016, an estimated 90,000 people died from measles, an 84 per cent drop from more than 550,000 deaths in 2000.
This marks the first time global measles deaths have fallen below 100,000 per year, said the report by the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gavi-The Vaccine Alliance.
“Measles elimination will only be reached if measles vaccines reach every child, everywhere,” Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, Director at the World Health Organisation, said in a statement on Thursday.
Since 2000, an estimated 5.5 billion doses of measles-containing vaccines have been provided to children through routine immunisation services and mass vaccination campaigns, saving an estimated 20.4 million lives.
However, the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals as 20.8 million children are still missing their first measles vaccine dose, the report said.
More than half of these unvaccinated children live in six countries, namely Nigeria (3.3 million), India (2.9 million), Pakistan (2.0 million), Indonesia (1.2 million), Ethiopia (0.9 million), and Democratic Republic of the Congo (0.7 million).
“However we cannot afford to be complacent (as) too many children are still missing out on lifesaving vaccines. To reach these children and set ourselves on a realistic road to measles elimination we need to dramatically improve routine immunisation backed by strong health systems,” noted Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.