Fri, 24 Jan 2020

Samoa's Measles Death Toll Rises

Voice of America
07 Dec 2019, 22:05 GMT+10

Samoa said Saturday the death toll from measles has risen to 65. Most of the victims were young children.

The Health Ministry said 103 new cases have been reported since Friday.

The new figures were released after a two-day lockdown, allowing the government to conduct a mass immunization campaign.

The ministry said almost 90% of its population has received the measles vaccine.

Samoa's Capital Deserted as Teams Battle Measles Door to Door Samoa's government steps up efforts to vaccinate everyone, curb a measles epidemic that has killed 62 people

The South Pacific island has declared a state of emergency as the virus has infected more than 4,500 people.

Schools have been temporarily closed.

"The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world's most vulnerable children," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, the World Health Organization director-general, said earlier this week. "To save lives, we must ensure everyone can benefit from vaccines - which means investing in immunization and quality health care as a right for all."

The worldwide measles vaccination rate has "stagnated for almost a decade," WHO reports.

Samoa's measles vaccination rate tumbled from 59% in 2017 to 31 % in 2018, according to WHO and UNICEF, "largely due to misinformation and mistrust among parents."

This year the United States reported the most cases of measles in 25 years.

Last year, four European countries -- Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and the United Kingdom -- lost their measles elimination status after "protracted outbreaks of the disease," according to WHO.

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