London (ANTARA) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a reduction in immunization rates for diseases such as measles, tetanus and diphtheria during the COVID-19 pandemic that has endangered millions of children.
“The suffering and avoidable deaths caused by children who lose routine immunization can be far greater than COVID-19 itself,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a joint report with UNICEF on Wednesday.
Three-quarters of the 82 countries that responded to the survey for the report said they faced corona virus-related disorders in their immunization program in May 2020.
Most problems are related to the lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, travel restrictions, and low staffing levels for health workers – all of which cause immunization services to be prevented or closed.
At least 30 measles vaccination campaigns have been or are at risk of being canceled, threatening new outbreaks of infectious viral diseases this year and beyond, the report said.
Measles outbreaks have increased, infecting nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killing 140,000 of them, most of them children, according to WHO data.
For diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, preliminary data for the first four months of 2020 “showed a substantial reduction” in the number of children receiving all three doses of DTP vaccine that protected them, the report said.
This is the first time in 28 years the world has seen a decrease in coverage for routine childhood immunization.
2019 data show that nearly 14 million children worldwide lose their life-saving vaccines. Most of these children live in Africa and are likely to lack access to other health services, the report said.
It said progress on immunization had jammed before the new corona virus emerged and spread throughout the world, but this pandemic made the situation worse.
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Translator: Yashinta Difa Pramudyani
Editor: Atman Ahdiat
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