$655 million needed to avert new measles and polio epidemics: U.N

Nurse Agnes from the Bwindi Community Hospital administers a Polio vaccination during a Polio and Measles vaccination program for newborn children in the community. The outreach clinic is in Kitahurira, the only Batwa tribe settlement in Mpungu district. Bwindi Community Hospital provides different outreach clinics everyday for the surrounding area around Buhoma. Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions to immunisation campaigns against measles and polio therefore putting millions of vulnerable children at risk from deadly diseases, United Nations agencies said on Friday.

The UN issued an urgent call for funding to avert epidemics saying $655 million was needed to address “dangerous immunity gaps” in poor and middle-income countries.

“We cannot allow the fight against one deadly disease to cause us to lose ground in the fight against other diseases,” UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

According to Fore, the $655 million needed includes $400 million for polio and $255 million for measles.

Vaccination coverage gaps have been further exacerbated in 2020 by COVID-19, and the WHO said data on measles death rates for 2019, due to be released next week, “will show the continued negative toll that sustained outbreaks are having”.