Anti-vaccination movement one of the top health threats in 2019 says WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a list of health threats for the New Year. Interestingly, Anti-vaccination movement has featured among the top threats to the world. The anti-vaccination movement comprises of a group of people who are reluctant to getting vaccinated and refuse to vaccinate themselves or their children against vaccine preventable infections.

Doctor vaccinating child - Image Credit: Africa Studio / Shuttersrtock
Doctor vaccinating child - Image Credit: Africa Studio / Shuttersrtock

The WHO said in a statement, “Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease — it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.” The WHO says that the term “vaccine hesitancy” has affected a significant number of people across the world and this has led to devastating consequences. For example cases of measles have risen by 30 percent among the children across the developed nations in the recent years because of anti-vaxxers who have not vaccinated their children against this infectious disease. The WHO says that even in nations where the disease was close to eradications, there have been a resurgence of cases.

According to the WHO the reason behind some people turning anti-vaccination is complex. There are various reasons including “complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence”, the experts add. There is a deluge of misinformation regarding vaccination and its purported uselessness and harm circulating online. This gathers more followers into the anti-vaxxers group. Vaccines prevent 2 million to 3 million deaths a year around the world says the report.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year nearly 100,000 children in the United States were not vaccinated against any of the 14 deadly but vaccine preventable infections. The total number of children below the age of two who have not been vaccinated is slowly on the rise says the CDC.

The major vaccine preventable diseases targeted by the WHO include cervical cancer for which HPV vaccines are being promoted and polio vaccines to eradicate polio. Polio reports are still coming in from Afghanistan and Pakistan, barring which other countries have successfully vaccinated their populations against the infection. From these two nations there have been less than 30 cases last year, the experts add. Influenza is another viral infection that has the capacity of infection people from large regions causing a pandemic. The authors of the new report stress upon the importance of getting a flu shot.

The report also speaks about the noncommunicable diseases that affect millions worldwide and include diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The report says that lifestyle risk factors such as poor diet, tobacco and alcohol use are “collectively responsible for over 70% of all deaths worldwide, or 41 million people.” Air pollution too is set to be a major killer this year they add. It kills around 7 million people yearly from diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and lung diseases. Climate change would soon take a toll on human population, they add killing millions with malnutrition, diarrhoea, heat strokes, malaria etc.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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