Is the elimination goal for measles threatened?

The debate over measles vaccine is underway in many countries and, in some cases, the discussion came to court. It happened, for instance, in Italy in 2012, when a judge recognized the right to compensation (required by Italian law) for the family of a child vaccinated in 2002 with the trivalent vaccine MPR (measles-mumps-rubella) who were later diagnosed with autism. During the debate, the consultant of the family presented the research of the English physician Andrew Wakefield. On February 13th 2015, the appeal court overturned that judgment because the technician appointed by the court has judged scientifically irrelevant the reasons of the judgment in first instance.

This story explains why in Italy was observed a drop in vaccination and helps to understand the 1674 measles cases reported in 2014, in addition to the 2251 reported in 2013. Of this total, 80,8% were found in six regions (Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardia, Piemonte and Sardegna).

Italy is not the only one that is threatening the Region’s goal of eliminating the disease by the end of 2015. Infact even though measles cases fell by 50% from 2013 to 2014, large outbreaks continue and seven countries in the European WHO Region have reported 22.567 cases of measles in 2014 and thus far in 2015:

  • A nationwide outbreak of measles is underway in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 5340 cases reported since February 2014.
  • Georgia reported 3191 measles cases in 2014, and approximately 100 new cases have been reported in 2015, as of 23 February.
  • As of 23 February 2015, 1091 measles cases have been reported to the national public health authority in Germany since the beginning of 2014. Most cases can be attributed to an ongoing outbreak of measles in Berlin (between October 2014 and 23 February 2015, a total of 540 cases have been reported to the national public health authority in Germany and one toddler died).
  • Kazakhstan started supplemental immunization against measles on 26 January 2015, in response to an increased number of cases reported in 2014 (317); 220 more were reported in January 2015.
  • Kyrgyzstan reported 7477 cases between May 2014 and February 2015. The first case was identified in Bishkek city on 3 May 2014, but the number increased dramatically in 2015. About 50% of those who fell ill were hospitalized and two children aged 1 year died.
  • The Russian Federation reported 3247 measles cases across 71 federal districts to the WHO Regional Office for Europe in 2014.

To support European countries in these efforts, the WHO Regional Office for Europe launched a new European Vaccine Action Plan (EVAP), a regional interpretation of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, that represents a call for policy-makers, health care workers and parents to step up vaccination against measles across age groups at risk.

MMLAP and other EU Projects

Health system analysis to support capacity development in response to the threat of pandemic influenza in Asia
Making society an active participant in water adaptation to global change
Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation
Engaging all of Europe in shaping a desirable and sustainable future
Expect the unexpected and know how to respond
Driving innovation in crisis management for European resilience
Effective communication in outbreak management: development of an evidence-based tool for Europe
Solutions to improve CBRNe resilience
Network for Communicable Disease Control in Southern Europe and Mediterranean Countries
Developing the framework for an epidemic forecast infrastructure
Strengthening of the national surveillance system for communicable diseases
Surveillance of vaccine preventable hepatitis
European monitoring of excess mortality for public health action
European network for highly infectious disease
Dedicated surveillance network for surveillance and control of vaccine preventable diseases in the EU
Modelling the spread of pandemic influenza and strategies for its containment and mitigation
Cost-effectiveness assessment of european influenza human pandemic alert and response strategies
Bridging the gap between science, stakeholders and policy makers
Promotion of immunization for health professionals in Europe
Towards inclusive research programming for sustainable food innovations
Addressing chronic diseases and healthy ageing across the life cycle
Medical ecosystem – personalized event-based surveillance
Studying the many and varied economic, social, legal and ethical aspects of the recent developments on the Internet, and their consequences for the individual and society at large
Get involved in the responsible marine research and innovation
Knowledge-based policy-making on issues involving science, technology and innovation, mainly based upon the practices in Parliamentary Technology Assessment
Assessment of the current pandemic preparedness and response tools, systems and practice at national, EU and global level in priority areas
Analysis of innovative public engagement tools and instruments for dynamic governance in the field of Science in Society
Public Engagement with Research And Research Engagement with Society
Computing Veracity – the Fourth Challenge of Big Data
Providing infrastructure, co-ordination and integration of existing clinical research networks on epidemics and pandemics
Promote vaccinations among migrant population in Europe
Creating mechanisms for effectively tackling the scientific and technology related challenges faced by society
Improve the quality of indoor air, keeping it free from radon
Improving respect of ethics principles and laws in research and innovation, in line with the evolution of technologies and societal concerns
Investigating how cities in the West securitise against global pandemics
Creating a structured dialogue and mutual learning with citizens and urban actors by setting up National Networks in 10 countries across Europe
Identifying how children can be change agents in the Science and Society relationship
Establishing an open dialogue between stakeholders concerning synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks
Transparent communication in Epidemics: Learning Lessons from experience, delivering effective Messages, providing Evidence