The death toll in 2019 was 50 per cent higher than a historic low reached in 2016, and all WHO regions saw an increase in cases, adding up to a global total of 869,770.
This year there have been fewer cases, but the covid-19 pandemic has further set back vaccination efforts, with more than 94 million people at risk of missing measles vaccines in 26 countries that have paused their vaccination campaigns, including many countries with ongoing outbreaks.
"Before there was a coronavirus crisis, the world was grappling with a measles crisis, and it has not gone away," Henrietta Fore, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, said in a statement on Thursday.
"While health systems are strained by the covid-19 pandemic, we must not allow our fight against one deadly disease to come at the expense of our fight against another," she stated.
Measles is entirely preventable, but success requires 95 per cent of children to be vaccinated on time with two doses of measles-containing vaccines (MCV1 and MCV2).
MCV1 coverage has been stagnant globally for more than a decade at between 84 and 85 percent, while MCV2 coverage has been steadily increasing but is still only at 71 percent.