Nepal | November 27, 2020

UN says needs $655 million to avert new measles and polio epidemics

Share Now:

LONDON: Severe disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to immunisation campaigns against measles and polio are putting millions of vulnerable children at risk from deadly and debilitating diseases, United Nations agencies said on Friday.

Issuing an urgent call for funding to avert epidemics of the contagious diseases, the UN children’s fund UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) said $655 million was needed to address “dangerous immunity gaps” in poor and middle-income countries.

“We cannot allow the fight against one deadly disease to cause us to lose ground in the fight against other diseases,” UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

Fore said the $655 million needed included $400 million for polio and $255 million for measles.

Measles – one of the world most contagious known diseases – has staged a global resurgence in recent years, with ongoing outbreaks in all parts of the world.

Vaccination coverage gaps have been further exacerbated in 2020 by COVID-19, and the WHO said data on measles death rates for 2019, due to be released next week, “will show the continued negative toll that sustained outbreaks are having”.

With polio, case numbers worldwide had been reduced to extremely low levels before the COVID-19 pandemic, but transmission of the crippling virus is now expected to increase in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and in areas of Africa where polio vaccination coverage rates have dipped.

“The COVID-19 pandemic (has) hurt momentum as … immunisation efforts were suspended,” the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Friday.

“This left children, especially in high-risk areas, more vulnerable to killer diseases like polio, measles and pneumonia. And now we’re starting to see outbreaks of these diseases.”

The WHO’s director of immunisation, vaccines and biologicals Catherine O’Brien told a separate briefing that disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic to health services had led to 91 routine vaccination campaigns being stopped in 53 countries.

“They’re coming back, but they haven’t come back fully or as quickly as we were hoping they will,” she said, adding that this was creating “immunity gaps” for measles, polio and several other infectious diseases.

“If we don’t act quickly soon for both polio, measles, yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, we will see significant outbreaks in 2021 or 2022,” O’Brien said.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Act now to address shadow pandemic of VAW, says WHO

KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 25 Urgent action is needed across the WHO South-East Asia Region to strengthen efforts to protect women and girls from violence and to support their health needs amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said the World Health Organisation Regional Office for South-East Asia today. Read More...

Be sensitive towards protecting rights of violence survivors: PM

KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 25 Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli stated that the government would not tolerate any sort of gender-based discrimination and violence. In a message released on the occasion of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, PM Oli reaffirmed the government’s efforts to op Read More...

Foden strike sends City into Champions League knockouts

ATHENS: Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden finished off a brilliant team move as his side saw off Olympiakos Piraeus 1-0 away from home on Wednesday to book their place in the Champions League's last 16. After dominating possession with little reward, City found a breakthrough in Read More...

Ensure right to life: NHRC

KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 25 The National Human Rights Commission has drawn the government’s attention to the need to protect people’s right to life. The human rights watchdog’s statement comes in the wake of recent protest in Bardibas of Mahottari, where police firing claimed the life of Budd Read More...

Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to arrive today

KATHMANDU: Foreign Secretary of India Harsh Vardhan Shringla will land in Nepal today for a two-day official visit. Shringla's visit follows a series of Indian high-level visits to Nepal made in an attempt to better the once very strained relations between the two countries following the May-bord Read More...

End to gender-based violence sought

KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 25 The Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal, a formal network of forest user groups from all over the country, has called for collaboration to end gender-based violence. At a programme organised by FECOFUN here today on the occasion of 16 Days of Activism against Ge Read More...

Road accidents continue to take toll on lives in Kathmandu valley

KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 25 Human casualties resulting from traffic accidents had decreased significantly in Kathmandu valley after the government imposed the lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus. However, with the government decision to lift the lockdown, road accidents have increas Read More...

Succour to abandoned kids, disabled man

BAJURA, NOVEMBER 25 Financial assistance was provided to three siblings who were left to fend for themselves after their only parent left them and a disabled man without anyone to take care of him in Badimalika Municipality, Bajura. After reading the news reports on their plight, Sai Samaj Sew Read More...