World Health Organisation warns of measles outbreak, as over 50 million deaths averted since 2000


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that more than half of the world’s countries will be at a high or very high risk of measles outbreaks by the end of the year unless urgent action is taken.

Measles is a highly contagious, airborne virus that mainly affects children under the age of five.

WHO said it could be prevented by vaccination , indicating that more than 50 million deaths had been averted since 2000.

Natasha Crowcroft, a WHO Senior Technical Adviser on Measles and Rubella, on Friday called for urgent action from governments to protect children.

“We can see, from data that is produced with WHO data by the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), that more than half of all the countries in the world are going to be at high or very high risk of outbreaks by the end of this year,” she told a press briefing in Geneva.

Death rates from measles are higher in poorer countries with weaker health systems, but the WHO warned middle and high-income countries were also at risk.

Recent outbreaks had included clusters of cases across England and a small but growing outbreak in Florida.

Alongside getting vaccine programmes back on track, countries must detect and respond quickly to outbreaks to limit further transmission, the World Economic Forum wrote earlier this month.

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