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  • A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019.

    A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 August 2019

In the first half of this year, the number of reported measles cases have reached a record level since 2006, found the organization.

From Jan. 1 to July 31 this year, a total of 364,808 measles cases have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost three more times than during the same period of time last year with 129,239 cases, warned the organization on Tuesday.

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"There have been almost three times as many cases reported to date in 2019 as there were at this same time last year," it said in a statement. "This follows successive yearly increases since 2016, indicating a concerning and continuing upsurge in the overall measles burden worldwide."

The countries registering the highest number of cases are Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Ukraine, while major outbreaks are ongoing in Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan and Thailand.

The organization highlighted that the largest outbreaks occured in areas where people lacked access to the vaccine, but other concerning outbreaks were happening even in countries with high national vaccination rates because of the anti-vaccine movement, among other.

Last week, another report issued by WHO found that more than one in 10 children - or 20 million worldwide - missed out last year on vaccines against life-threatening diseases such as measles, diphtheria and tetanus.

"Measles is a real-time indicator of where we have more work to do to fight preventable diseases," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director said then. 

In 2018 for example, the number of measles cases around the world more than doubled, to almost 350,000.

Almost half the world's unvaccinated children are in just 16 countries: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

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