You’ve seen the alarming headlines from around the world: Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and North America have seen the highest number of measles outbreaks in decades, and this disease once thought eliminated in many parts of the world is coming back with a vengeance.
Why are we seeing such staggering rates of infections — and needless deaths — from a disease for which we have a safe and effective vaccine? Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, fewer children are being vaccinated. In 2017, 11 countries that had previously reached 90 percent diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine coverage fell below this target, and nearly 20 million children were undervaccinated. This is a worrisome sign we are backsliding in our progress.
“Over 1.5 million children die annually from vaccine-preventable deaths.”
To stop measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases in their tracks, we know that countries need to step up their vaccination efforts. While many countries are working to ramp up domestic spending on immunization and health, the international community continues to play an important role. Bill Gates kicked off the year by making a compelling case for global health, including vaccines, describing it as “the best investment” he had ever made.