Saturday, December 06, 2014

184.3 - Not Good News: Cases of measles sharply up worldwide

Not Good News: Cases of measles sharply up worldwide

I came across this the other day, and it just hurt my heart. It comes under the heading of Not Good News.

In 2000, the World Health Organization embarked on a campaign to get children across the world immunized against measles, still a significant killer of children. The goal was to reduce deaths from measles by 95% by 2015.

By 2012, that goal looked in reach: The number of children who died yearly from measles had dropped from 583,000 to 122,000, a drop of about 81%.

But WHO now reports that in 2013 the number of measles deaths in children went up to nearly 146,000, raising doubts the goal of a 95% reduction will be met by next year.

The greater tragedy here, the real source of the pain, is that the measles vaccine is easily available and relatively affordable - about $1 per child in the developing world - but governments and private partners contributing to the immunization effort have slashed funding, with the result that vaccination programs have been delayed or even stopped in several countries, leaving tens of millions of children, particularly in India, Pakistan, and Nigeria, vulnerable to a disease that potentially can leave them brain damaged or blind even if they survive.

Understand: This is an international program through UNICEF, which means it's internationally-funded. It's not that nations such as India, Pakistan, and Nigeria have cut their funding for immunizations of their own children, it's that the world community has. And the people most affected, as is often the case, are the poor. Which is probably why in the eyes of too many governments, the lives of the children are literally not worth $1.

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