Dr Marc Sprenger, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said measles deserves special attention by policymakers and public health experts given the thousands of cases recorded in Europe in recent years.
Writing in a special edition of The Parliament magazine which features articles on immunisation from politicians, doctors, NGOs and development experts, he notes that up to 25% of measles cases results in hospitalisation.
“It is not a harmless disease and can result in serious, sometimes fatal, complications,” Dr Sprenger said.
“The vaccine against measles, as with many other diseases, is safe and cheap. Even in these times of austerity, spending on prevention will be more economical than paying for treatment,” Dr Sprenger writes.
There are (very) early signs that the number of new measles cases in Europe this year may be lower than in 2011 but the ECDC and WHO Europe are making the battle against measles a topic priority.
The ECDC is convening a meeting of experts in public health, behavioural sciences and social media in an effort to develop new ways of improving measles immunisation rates, while WHO Europe has listed measles as one of the central themes of this year’s European Immunization Week.