Fear of vaccines, a threat to global health in 2019

According to the WHO, mistrust of vaccines is one of the ten threats to global health for the year 2019.

Ebola, dengue fever, global warming and air pollution, HIV, non-communicable diseases (obesity, diabetes) and… anti-vaccine sentiment. What is the link between these different health issues? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these issues are among the ten global health threats for 2019.

And if the WHO has added mistrust of vaccines to its list, it is because it is concerned that certain contagious diseases will reappear when they were on the way to being eradicated from certain regions of the world. For WHO, hesitation and reluctance towards vaccination “threatens to reverse progress in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases”, such as measles, diphtheria or rubella.

“Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent disease – it currently prevents 2 to 3 million deaths per year, and an additional 1.5 million deaths could be prevented if global immunization coverage were to improve,” says WHO. In particular, it recalls that measles has seen an overall increase of 30% in the number of cases worldwide. In France alone, no less than 2,702 cases of measles were recorded from January to September 2018, according to Sant√© Publique France. Yet vaccination remains the easiest way to protect against highly contagious diseases such as measles, a disease for which there is no cure. These diseases are often not serious, but can lead to serious complications, especially in pregnant women, the elderly and immunocompromised people.

For WHO, complacency, inconvenience related to access to vaccines and lack of trust are the main reasons for hesitation about vaccination. It encourages health authorities to intensify their efforts to provide reliable information on vaccines to the general public.

For its part, WHO has indicated that it will intensify its efforts to eliminate cervical cancer by increasing HPV vaccine coverage, and hopes that 2019 will also be the year in which polio transmission in Afghanistan and Pakistan ends.

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