As we entered European Immunisation Week 2018, the WHO released the latest figures for vaccine-preventable diseases and it did not make for happy reading. Cases of measles were up 400% across Europe in 2017, with outbreaks in multiple countries. Why do these outbreaks persist in some of the wealthiest regions in the world, and what are we doing to eliminate them?
The European Vaccine Action plan sets immunisation and control goals to 2020, and at the end of EIW 2018 some of the most at-risk countries in Europe have solidified their commitment to increasing immunisation uptake and preventing circulation of measles, rubella, diptheria, and so on.
With 2020 fast approaching, it will be important for those of us in the industry to consider how cultural and knowledge barriers can be addressed to improve childhood vaccination uptake in some of the communities and regions where vaccination rates are traditionally lower, as we work to eradicate preventable deaths.
The WHO European Region has made real, but uneven, progress towards EVAP goals and objectives, including measles and rubella elimination. As of the end of 2016, 42 of 53 countries had interrupted endemic measles transmission. However, following a record low of around 5000 cases in 2016, the disease rebounded in 2017, affecting more than 21 000 people. “The countries in south-eastern Europe face many common challenges, which intersect and affect progress within and across their borders,” said WHO Regional Director Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab. “By establishing and pursuing this tailored roadmap we will contribute to stronger foundations for immunization in the subregion and to the health and well-being of everyone in the European Region as a whole.”