Written by By Alexandra Mardell, CNN EMEA , Special to CNN
The figure couldn’t be clearer. A vaccination gap of 28% exists for over 10 million children living in Southeast Asia. This is the situation all over the world and to make matters worse, today it has reached 50%.
The main concern is that as the number of new cases of measles continue to rise, many more children are going to become victims. What is especially alarming is that Australia, India, Pakistan, Oman, Philippines, Thailand and the UK have had a one-month increase in measles cases.
These positive results were mainly the result of early action. In January, the UK and Cambodia announced an agreement to fight back on the measles outbreak by mobilizing public health leaders and new vaccine strategies. Indonesia took several other measures including joining the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
However, in South East Asia, at least, vaccination gaps aren’t getting any smaller.
Heavily impacted countries, such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, have put in place individual plans to work together, including immunization campaigns coordinated through the World Health Organization. A joint commitment by these countries and others like Australia, to support one another has resulted in a partnership in the fight against measles.
Myanmar announced this partnership in March. The country will work closely with its neighbors to eradicate measles and planned to train a new workforce in measles vaccination that will monitor outbreaks in neighboring countries, try to fight clusters of case across Myanmar and train local health workers on how to react to the disease and other diseases.
“Meningitis, measles and smallpox disease were once endemic in all countries, but today those diseases no longer exist,” says a spokesperson for The World Health Organization, who noted that the organization is contributing resources and funding, as well as vaccine for vaccines. WHO is also working with partners including the UN and governments in the WHO regional office and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.