Abigail Lim/ Staff Reporter
Over 14 years ago, millions of children were immunized for the measles virus in the Darfur region of Sudan. However, after many years, measles has once again become an issue that has circulated worldwide.
Measles is a serious disease that leads to health problems such as rashes on the skin and flu-like symptoms in a fever. It is highly contagious and there is no medical treatment for it.
In 2004, Darfur was hounded by violence, population displacement, a lack of health care, and especially the measles disease. As a result, measles spread quickly, and cases of measles were reported.
During the month of June 2004, the World Health Organization, or WHO, UNICEF, and the Sudanese Ministry of Health led teams to vaccinate millions of people in the region of Darfur.
From then up until now, the WHO has come up with solutions such as the Global Vaccine Action Plan and have helped people vaccinate for measles in many parts of the world.
However, in 2019 the WHO reported that measles outbreaks have spread quickly across the world. During the first six months of the year, there have been more measles cases reported than in any year since 2006. The WHO received 364,808 measles cases from 182 countries.
Some of these countries included the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Madagascar, Sudan, and Ukraine.
The WHO vaccinated millions of children in the region of Darfur in 2004 and around the world. Nonetheless, this was still not enough to stop measles outbreaks.
Michelle Bennett, science teacher, said, “As a global society, especially when we have travelers travelling to the country and back, they can be bringing these viruses or diseases back home and infecting those loved ones.”
In recent years, the number of measles cases in Canada has fluctuated. From the start of January up until September 2019, 112 cases of measles have been reported in Canada. These cases were reported by British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, the Northwest Territories, and New Brunswick.
In Canada, it is recommended that children are vaccinated starting at 12 months of age. One of them includes the MMR vaccine, which protects for measles, mumps, and rubella.
With this vaccine that is provided in Canada, there are still Canadians who do not accept taking vaccinations or disagree with this idea.
In fact, there is approximately 20 percent of parents in Toronto that do not want their children to be vaccinated, according to Toronto Public Health. From the city’s report, the reason was that parents were uncertain of the protection and efficiency of vaccines.
“I think because many parents are against vaccines, it is causing more of a measles breakout and they need to understand that there is a reason why we have protection against it,” said Neeka Yazdani, grade 10.
“We kind of have this false sense of security and I think that is why a lot of people do not vaccinate their children,” Bennett said.
“I think a lot of uninformed people out there are putting together this news that vaccines cause autism, so I think this is the reason why a lot of people do not want their kids to be vaccinated. It is [because] they are saying, I don’t know what it can do along the line, my kid’s healthy anyways, they should be fine,” added Bennett.
So far in 2019, the WHO does not plan on vaccinating for measles anywhere around the world.
Moreover, as of November 2019, there are no recent reports on measles in Canada. However, there are also strategies students at Gleneagle can do to prevent measles outbreaks from spreading.
“Looking at those that are travelling to areas that have a measles outbreak, being able to quarantine those individuals right away, just to make sure that it does not get spread to schools, because we do have so many students here at the school that it would spread very quickly.” Bennet said.
By applying these actions, the Gleneagle community can feel safe in their school environment. At the same time, this can also prevent serious consequences to people outside of Gleneagle. In the long run, this keeps individuals protected from measles and ensures students and staff are all measles free at school.