By Sally Robertson, B.Sc. Jan 8 2020
With the number of people killed by measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) surpassing 6,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for more funding to curb the world’s worst outbreak of the infectious disease. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock.com
Since the beginning of 2019, approximately 310,000 suspected measles cases have been reported.
According to the WHO, the outbreak, which is the world’s largest and fastest moving to date, has caused almost three times more deaths in the Congo than Ebola has.
Since September 2019, when the Congolese government and the WHO launched an emergency vaccination program, more than 18 million children under the age of five have been immunized.
However, in some regions, routine vaccination remains low, and one-quarter of reported measles cases are among children older than five years, which is the most vulnerable age group. Factors aggravating the epidemic
As well as low vaccinate coverage among vulnerable communities, other factors aggravating the epidemic include malnutrition, poor healthcare infrastructure, and outbreaks of other diseases. Efforts to vaccinate against measles have also been hindered by difficulty accessing remote areas and health centers coming under attack from armed militia operating in the country.
In a new appeal, the WHO has announced that a lack of funding remains a huge barrier in curbing the spread of the disease. Since the outbreak was declared in June 2019, cases of measles have been reported in every one of the country’s 26 provinces. The DRC is also experiencing the world’s most deadly outbreak of Ebola, but even this has claimed the lives of less than half the number measles has. “We urge our donor partners to step up their assistance urgently” Related Stories
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