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UN warns of dangerous drop in vaccinations during COVID pandemic

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UN warns of dangerous drop in vaccinations during COVID pandemic

Levels of childhood immunisations against dangerous diseases such as measles, tetanus and diphtheria have dropped alarmingly during the COVID-19 pandemic cording to the United Nations. The UN agencies said on Wednesday that this situation is putting millions of children at risk.


“The avoidable suffering and deaths, caused by children missing out on routine immunisations, could be far greater than COVID-19 itself,’’ the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said in a joint report with UNICEF.

Three-quarters of the 82 countries that responded to a survey for the report said they had suffered coronavirus-related disruptions to their immunisation programmes as of May 2020.

Most problems were linked to a lack of sufficient personal protection equipment (PPE) for health workers, travel restrictions and low health worker staffing levels – all of which led to immunisation services being curbed or shut down.

At least, 30 measles vaccination campaigns have been, or are at risk of being cancelled, threatening new outbreaks of the contagious viral disease this year and beyond, the report said.

Measles outbreaks were already on the rise, infecting nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killing 140,000 of them – mostly children, according to WHO data.

For diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, preliminary data for the first four months of 2020 “points to a substantial drop’’ in the number of children getting all three doses of the DTP vaccine that protects against them, the report said.

This would be the first time in 28 years that the world could see a fall in coverage for this routine childhood immunisation.

Data for 2019 showed that nearly 14 million children worldwide missed out on 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 immunisation was already stalling before the new coronavirus emerged and spread around the world, but the pandemic made a bad situation worse.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

Emmanuel Okara: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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