Which developing economies vaccinate more babies against measles than the UK?

Technology Eye | April. 25, 2016

Preventing and treating disease is often viewed as an aim that poor countries struggle to achieve while rich countries succeed.

However, this doesn’t seem to apply in the fight against measles.

Data from the World Health Organisation has been assembled into a world map by T he Economist , showing that some developing economies vaccinate more children than developed economies.

An interactive version of this map, showing the vaccination coverage and cases for measles from 1980 to 2014, is available here .

Measles is so contagious that at least 95% of people must be vaccinated to stop its spread. Many poor countries are above this threshold, with Eritrea, Rwanda and Sri Lanka vaccinating at least 96% of one-year-olds.

Many rich countries are not up to these standards, with the United Kingdom and Australia vaccinating only 93%, the United States only 91% and Italy 86%. This means that these countries have not reached the threshold needed to stop the spread.

Cases of measles have decreased dramatically since 1980, following campaigns to eliminate the disease and increase vaccination coverage.

Although western countries have made big steps in improving coverage, and reducing the number of cases, it’s not all good news.

Outbreaks have continued in recent years and in 2015 Europe failed to reach its target to eliminate measles, instead seeing almost 4,000 cases.

The US saw 668 cases of measles in 2014, a big increase from only 85 cases in the year 2000.

Conversely, cases have declined in Rwanda, from over 80,000 in 1980, to around 2,000 in 2000 and to less than 50 in 2014.

Although Sri Lanka has a vaccinated 99% of one-year-olds since 2010, it has seen an increase from 79 cases in 2010 to 2,554 in 2014. A report suggested that this increase could be explained by an increase in susceptible infants due to the change in the vaccine schedule.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that vaccines save 2.5 million lives a year, and as shown in The Economist’s maps, there has been a global improvement in the eradication of measles especially.

However, there is still plenty to do. As T he Economist notes: “The return of easily preventable diseases that had all but disappeared is a shame.”

Have you read? Should we fear measles more than Ebola? How does the measles vaccine prevent deaths from other diseases? What US measles outbreaks show us about vaccination

SOURCE: World Economic Forum

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