As the number of measles cases continued to soar, more than 140,000 people across the globe died from measles previous year, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
"Our finding is that in 2018, there's been an increase in both the cases and the deaths that have occurred by measles", Dr. Kate O'Brien, director of WHO's immunization program, said in a video release. "To save lives, we must ensure everyone can benefit from vaccines, which means investing in immunization and quality health care as a right for all".
Of the 62 who have died since the measles epidemic started in the country, 57 were children under the age of 15, while 26 were babies aged less than one year old.
The United States has already reported its highest number of measles cases in 25 years in 2019, while four countries in Europe - Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and Britain - lost their World Health Organization "measles-free" status in 2018 after suffering large outbreaks.
Five countries-the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine-accounted for nearly half of all measles cases in 2018.
But the United States also saw its highest number of cases in 25 years, narrowly avoiding losing its status of having eliminated the disease.
"The causes of the measles resurgence during 2017-2018 are multifactorial and vary by country". In countries like the UK and the United States, worldwide travel has been linked to several recent outbreaks.
The WHO and UNICEF estimated that 86 percent of children globally received the first dose of measles vaccine in 2018, but fewer than 70 percent received the second recommended dose.
Those numbers, though better than data from 2000, have been relatively consistent since 2010. UNICEF has delivered more than 260,000 doses of measles vaccines to Samoa since 1 October, including the required diluent, syringes and safety boxes, as well as sufficient supplies of Vitamin A.
A measles vaccination campaign has been launched to protect people in all of Congo's provinces.
"In other words, we're backsliding". "This new vaccination campaign aims to protect children in North Kivu, as well as other parts of the country from a disease that is easily preventable with a vaccine".
Robert Linkins, a specialist at the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data were worrying: "Without improving measles vaccine coverage we're going to continue to see these needless deaths".
Samoan funeral directors dealing with measles deaths are reminded of the 2009 tsunami, and in some cases are running out of children's caskets.
There are now 172 measles cases who are in-patients at all health facilities.