Azerbaijan Ranks Second in Measles Cases Among European Countries, WHO Reports

Azerbaijan Ranks Second in Measles Cases Among European Countries, WHO Reports

Azerbaijan has been ranked second in the number of reported measles cases among European countries, according to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

A staggering 28,855 cases of measles have been registered in Azerbaijan, with nearly half of the reported cases in 2023 occurring in children under the age of five.

The alarming statistics come amid a joint report by WHO and UNICEF warning of a sharp increase in measles incidence across the European region. In the first three months of 2024 alone, 56,634 cases of measles were detected in 45 out of 53 countries in the region, resulting in four fatalities. This surge follows a concerning trend, with 61,070 cases of measles recorded in 41 countries throughout 2023, resulting in 13 deaths.

According to WHO data spanning from April 2023 to March 2024, Kazakhstan leads the region in reported measles cases, followed by Azerbaijan in second place, with Russia and Kyrgyzstan ranking third and fourth, respectively.

The report highlights a glaring gap in vaccination coverage, particularly among children under the age of five. Alarmingly, more than 75% of children who contracted measles in the previous year had not received a single dose of the measles vaccine. Furthermore, approximately 99% had not received the crucial second dose required for adequate protection.

Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, emphasized the urgent need for government intervention to address the rising measles incidence. "The increase in the incidence of measles is a clear sign of a decrease in immunization coverage. As the number of measles cases continues to rise, we need urgent government action both to strengthen health systems and to implement effective public health measures to ensure that all children are protected from this dangerous but preventable disease," she stated.

In response to the crisis, Azerbaijan initiated measles vaccination campaigns in December 2023, targeting individuals aged 11 to 40 years old.

Measles is an acute infectious viral disease known for its high level of contagiousness. Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, fever, and characteristic rash. While the disease can lead to lifelong immunity, it can also result in severe health complications or death. There is no specific treatment for measles, underscoring the critical importance of vaccination in preventing its spread and mitigating its impact on public health.

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