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  • Doctors Without Borders staff care for children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Feb. 6, 2020.

    Doctors Without Borders staff care for children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Feb. 6, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @MSF_Espana

Published 6 February 2020
Opinion

Since the Measles outbreak began in mid-2018, it has affected over 310,000 people and killed 6,000.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Thursday reported that around 4,500 children died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2019 as a result of the worst measles outbreak of the last decade.

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DR Congo Suffers World's Largest Measles Outbreak Ever: WHO

Three of four deaths of minors occurred due to a contagious disease for which a safe and economical vaccine has long existed.

The measles outbreak began in mid-2018, but health authorities delayed until June 2019 to officially declare the existence of an epidemic. Meanwhile, more than 310,000 people contracted the disease and more than 6,000 people died.

Outbreaks of measles still exist in all DRC provinces. Since this disease is more dangerous than Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international emergency.

In January, this multilateral institution warned that the situation is alarming in this African country, for 25 percent of cases involve children under 5 years.

WHO also indicated that the lack of funds constitutes a "huge impediment" to alleviate the measles outbreak and estimated that an additional US$40 million is needed to finance medical care and a vaccination plan over the next six months.

The epidemic has been worsening due to low levels of vaccination, difficult access to some rural areas, poor diet, and weak Congolese health infrastructure.

“A few days ago we received a mother who came with her two sick children from a town that is 20 km away. The two children had been hospitalized for 10 days in two health centers near their home, but the treatment they received there did not work," the MSF coordinator Roland Fourcaud explained.

The country's insecurity also contributes to aggravate the situation in some affected areas because over a hundred irregular armed groups operate in the DRC.

This happens, for example, in the northeast of the country where 2,252 of 3,429 people killed by measles have occurred since August 2018.

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