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Dramatic measles resurgence a threat

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Dana, held by her mother Inna, doesn’t cry while being administered her first dose of mumps, measles and rubella vaccine at Children’s Policlinic No. 1 in Obolon district, Kyiv, Ukraine. UN photo

Europe has lost ground in eliminating measles, as the number of countries having achieved or sustained elimination of the disease has declined, the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) warned.

“If high immunization coverage is not achieved and sustained in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will tragically die,” Günter Pfaff, chair of the RVC, said in a press release on the conclusions of the annual assessment.

According to RVC, as of the end of 2018, 35 countries have achieved or sustained measles elimination (compared to 37 for 2017), while 12 remain endemic for measles.

Four countries (Albania, Czech Republic, Greece and the United Kingdom) lost their measles elimination status for the first time since the verification process began in 2012. However, Austria and Switzerland attained elimination status for at least the past 36 months.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization activated a Grade 2 emergency response to measles circulation in the region, which allows the agency to mobilize the needed human and financial resources to support the affected countries.

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