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  • A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella virus vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, U.S., March 20, 2019.

    A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella virus vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, U.S., March 20, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 September 2019
Opinion

Measles-related mortality exceeds fatalities generated by the Ebola epidemic in this African country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the start of the third measles vaccination campaign at the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where over 3,600 people have died from this disease so far.

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"The DRC is experiencing a difficult situation because many children do not receive routine immunization against measles," WHO representative Deo Nshimirimana said and added that only 57 percent of Congolese children were vaccinated against measles in 2018.

As part of this new emergency campaign, the WHO, the DRC government, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and UNICEF will vaccinate some 825,000 children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years in 24 health areas.

"The country now has large groups of children who need to be vaccinated. WHO and its partners are working with the Health Ministry to move forward as quickly as possible to reach them," Nshimirimana announced.

On June 10, the DR Congo’s Health Minister officially declared that this African country was experiencing the world’s biggest measles outbreak ever recorded.

This announcement was made after the health authorities confirmed the death of over 1,500 children due to this disease.

As of Sept. 17, DR Congo official statistics recorded 183,837 suspected measles cases and 3,667 deaths.

The measles-related mortality exceeds the total number of fatalities generated by the Ebola epidemic, which is also affecting the northeast of the country since August 2018.

Until Sept. 22, at least 3,164 people were infected with Ebola and 2,115 people died from this disease.

Since January, nearly 365,000 cases have been reported globally and it is suspected that there are 6.7 million suspected cases so far.

While the biggest measles outbreaks are currently in the DR Congo and Madagascar, over 90,000 measles cases were also recorded in European countries in the first half of this year.

On August, the U.S. federal health officials acknowledged 1,215 measles cases recorded within 30 states, which is in its worst outbreak since 1992.

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