ECDC has not received any gifts yet
Today, ECDC launched a complement of new resources to support front line health care workers and public health professionals working on routine vaccination programmes.
With an emphasis on the concepts of trust and transparency, this guide published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, has been developed to assist those involved in planning and implementing health communication activities to promote immunisation.
It builds on existing research and good practice developed by international organisations, with real-life…Continue
To mark European Immunization Week, ECDC vaccine-preventable disease experts are posting blogs on the different aspects and challenges of immunization in the EU.
Measles can be beaten by Dr. Marc Sprenger, ECDC Director
Dr Sprenger outlines the reasons why there is a need for "renewed energy and efforts" in Europe to make immunisation the success, to address the problem…Continue
To mark European Immunisation Week (EIW), 21-27 April, ECDC is gathering public health experts, behavioural specialists and social marketing professionals to find innovative ways on how to fight the spread of measles in Europe. Dubbed the 'Free-Thinkers' meeting, participants will be blogging live from the event. The blog entries will appear here.
ECDC focusing on measles for this year's Immunisation Week to highlight the fact that measles has re-emerged in the EU. Measles is…Continue
by Dr Marc Sprenger
It is all the more depressing against the backdrop of the inroads made to immunise children across the world over the past 10 years that Europe – where children should have access to vaccines – continues to have large numbers of cases of vaccine preventable diseases. Renewed energy and efforts are required in Europe to make immunisation the success that it ought to be.
The situation regarding measles deserves particular attention. It is not a harmless disease and can result in serious, sometimes fatal, complications. There is no specific treatment for measles. In fact, up to 25 per cent of cases result in hospitalisation.
In 2011, 30 567 cases of measles were reported by the 29 reporting European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC). This is quadruple the number of cases since 2009. This is despite the member countries of the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe committing to eliminate measles in Europe by 2015. Although it may seem like an impossible mission, this target is still achievable for the EU.
With the data available for this year, the number of cases of measles for Europe, as a whole, is much lower than 2011 and 2010. This does not apply uniformly across Europe as can be witnessed by the largest outbreak in the north-west of England since the introduction of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine in 1988. It is too early to tell whether there is a general reduction in the number of cases compared to the past two years or whether the measles season is simply late, or both. Measles is prone to epidemic outbreaks so without an increase in immunisation coverage Europe could easily see another outbreak of 30,000-plus cases.
There are some inspiring initiatives in Europe to increase the number of people vaccinated against measles. But the public health community need to embrace the opportunities offered by 21st century communications: access to mobile phones, the Internet and social networking. Measles can be beaten but the Member States need to demonstrate their political will by employing proactive tactics such as these and more.
ECDC works with the Member States to provide them European-wide data on the disease and also on vaccine coverage. They can in turn use the data to inform their actions. ECDC also supports and funds the Vaccine European New Integrated Collaboration Effort (VENICE) project. The project brings together knowledge and best practices from across Europe so that countries can work together effectively to eliminate measles.
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. Measles can be beaten and eliminated from Europe but a sustained and engaged effort by the national governments and their public health authorities is required to do so.
Marc Sprenger is the Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
A longer version of this article was originally published in Parliament Magazine, April 2012 and can be viewed here
Follow me on Twitter @ECDC_MSprenger