Serbia among 10 countries with highest numbers of new measles cases


Serbia reported the sixth biggest rise in the number of measles cases between 2017 and 2018, UNICEF said on Friday in a press release which warned that the alarming global outbreak was dangerous for children.

UNICEF warned that the situation is critical in some countries which used to be free of the disease, adding that 10 countries reported cases which accounted for 74 percent of the global increase.  

The UN agency’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore is quoted as saying that this is a wake up call.. “We have a safe, efficient and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease – a vaccine that has almost a million lives every year over the last two decades, she said and warned of catastrophic consequences for children in the future if nothing is done now.  

Serbia is ranked sixth on the list with 4,355 reported cases in the given period following after the Ukraine with 30,338, the Philippines with 13,192, Brasil with 10,262, Yemen with 6,641 and Venezuela with 4,916 reported cases of measles. Ranked after Serbia are Madagascar with 4,307 cases, Sudan with 3,496, Thailand with 2,758 and France with 2,269 reported cases.  

UNICEF said the number of new cases in Serbia had dropped following prevention measures launched by the Health Care Ministry with just one new case reported in February.

The epidemic in Serbia comes because parts of the population were not vaccinated. “The epidemic showed that a significant number of adults had not been vaccinated or were not fully vaccinated and that a lot of children under the age of five had not been vaccinated because their parents were reluctant to do so after hearing rumours about the quality and safety of the MMR vaccine and its alleged link to autism,” the press release said.

 It said that 98 countries had reported higher numbers of measles cases in 2018 compared to 2017, eroding progress against this highly preventable, but potentially deadly disease. “Almost all of these cases are preventable, and yet children are getting infected even in places where there is simply no excuse,” said Fore. “Measles may be the disease, but, all too often, the real infection is misinformation, mistrust and complacency. We must do more to accurately inform every parent, to help us safely vaccinate every child.”