Kiev (AFP)

Some 200 people demonstrated Thursday in Ukraine, the European country most affected by the current outbreak of measles, to demand the "freedom" not to vaccinate and denounce the "discrimination" of the authorities who threaten to ban children not vaccinated schools.

The protesters, many of them young parents with their children, some from the provinces, carried placards on which one could read: "No to discrimination!", "For a free medical choice" or "Coercion to the interference medical is a crime. "

"I am for a free choice and against discrimination," said one of the protesters, Alla Fedortchouk, who came from Lutsk (west) and whose 3-year-old son did not receive any vaccine.

While one of her sisters is suffering, according to Fedortchouk, from serious adverse post-vaccination events, she accuses the authorities of abandoning the children who have experienced the same problem. "When my sister got sick, my mom had no support from the doctors," said the 25-year-old.

According to the WHO, measles cases tripled in the world between January and July compared to the same period a year earlier. Ukraine, a former Soviet republic vast as France, is the most affected European country.

The country has recorded more than 57,000 cases since the beginning of the year, including 18 deaths, unprecedented since independence.

Faced with this scourge, the government threatened in mid-August to ban unvaccinated children from access to schools.

The Ukrainian authorities blame the current crisis for vaccine shortages in previous years and strong opposition to vaccination among part of the population.

To remedy this situation, the Ministry of Health continues to call parents to vaccinate their children and this year launched a "special operation" in the most affected areas including organizing massive vaccinations in schools.

In late July, Kiev also launched a vaccination campaign against diphtheria and tetanus. "Among children, vaccination coverage is about 70%, among adults even less.Experts predict an outbreak" of these dangerous infections, said Acting Health Minister Ulana Suprun.

© 2019 AFP