THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that measles vaccinations must be stepped up straight away across Europe and central Asia following outbreaks.
WHO has demanded that countries make no exceptions and control the outbreaks after officials declared they had been taken aback by more than 22,000 cases in 2014 and the beginning of 2015.
The organisation fears that the surge in cases threaten its goal to eliminate measles from the area by the end of 2015.
Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “When we consider that over the past two decades we have seen a reduction of 96 per cent in the number of measles cases in the European region, and that we are just a step away from eliminating the disease, we are taken aback by these numbers.
“We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps.
“It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years’ efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money and time.”
WHO has explained that growing numbers of parents are deciding not to vaccinate their children and some that do face barriers.
Dr Nedret Emiroglu from the organisation declared: “The priority is now to control current outbreaks through immunization activities targeting people at risk.
“At the same time, all countries, with no exception, need to keep a very high coverage of regular measles vaccination, so that similar outbreaks won’t happen again in our region, and measles can be eliminated once and for all.”