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Measles killed an estimated 128,000 people in 2021 – mostly children aged under five – although a cheap and effective vaccine has existed for over half a century.

In 2021, around 81 per cent of children received a routine dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday, which is the lowest percentage since 2008. The disease is extremely contagious, yet easily preventable with two doses of a vaccine. MSF has vaccinated over 34 million children against measles since 2006. Outbreaks are fuelled by weak public immunisation systems and low vaccination coverage, including in areas of conflict and among high numbers of people living in close quarters, such as refugee camps.

Quick facts about measles

5 Minutes to Understand... Measles (ENG)

Measles: 5 minutes to understand

5 minutes to understand

Measles is a highly contagious disease can cause deadly epidemics.

The World Health Organization estimates that measles cases in Africa rose 700 per cent between 2018 and 2019.

In low-income countries, when measles is combined with malnutrition or malaria, it’s effects can be devastating. But, thanks to a safe, cheap and effective vaccine, measles is a preventable disease.

In Chad, Niger, and Nigeria, supply and cold chain issues, lack of staff and resources have all affected recent vaccination campaigns. As a result, epidemics that broke out in 2018 continue to claim lives.

Taking action in contexts like these necessitates a series of strategic decisions.

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We produce important research based on our field experience. So far, we have published articles in over 100 peer-reviewed journals. These articles have often changed clinical practice and have been used for humanitarian advocacy. All of these articles can be found on our dedicated Field Research website.

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29 July 2020