Tuesday June 25, 2019

Measles Epidemic on Rise in Congo After Ebola Outbreak

Ebola has so far killed 1,390 people in Congo's North Kivu province, the latest Congo health ministry figures show

0
//
measles epidemic
Democratic Republic of Congo map. VOA

Congo’s government has declared an epidemic of measles, which the latest health ministry figures show has now killed at least 1,500 people, over a hundred more than have died of Ebola.

While health officials have focused on the far deadlier hemorrhagic Ebola virus concentrated in Democratic Republic of Congo’s lawless east, some 65,000 suspected cases of measles have been reported across the vast central African country. The health ministry revealed the measles figure when it declared the epidemic on Monday.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Tuesday that 1,500 deaths from measles had been recorded in the first five months of 2019, the highest since 2012, which was the deadliest measles epidemic of the last decade.

measles epidemic
FILE – A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella virus (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S. VOA

Ebola has so far killed 1,390 people in Congo’s North Kivu province, the latest Congo health ministry figures show. MSF called for “a massive mobilization of all relevant national and international organizations in order to vaccinate more children and treat patients affected by the disease.”

ALSO READ: WHO Says, “About Quarter of Ebola Cases in Congo Going Undetected”

The health ministry said its vaccination campaign would target a further 1.4 million infants, and that 2.2 million had been vaccinated in April. Health officials say comprehensive vaccination programs are the only way to prevent measles spreading out of control, but say ill-informed opposition can sometimes scupper such plans.

The United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) launched a campaign #VaccinesWork in April to counter a backlash against vaccination by some parents in different parts of the world. (VOA)

Next Story

WHO Says Ebola Outbreak Not a Public Health Emergency Despite its Spread from Congo to Uganda

The current Ebola outbreak in DRC has killed more than 1,400 people since it emerged last August

0
ebola
FILE - An Ebola health worker is seen at a treatment center in Beni, Eastern Congo, April, 16, 2019. VOA

The World Health Organization decided on Friday not to declare an international public health emergency over the Ebola outbreak, despite its recent spread from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Uganda.

The WHO’s emergency committee described the outbreak as “an extraordinary event” of deep concern, but said it does not yet meet the criteria to be designated an international emergency.

The panel has only used the label “public health emergency of international concern” four times since the committee was formed in 2005. Those included the swine flu pandemic of 2009, the spread of poliovirus in 2014, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that begin in 2014, and the Zika virus in 2016.

ebola
People coming from Congo have their temperature measured to screen for symptoms of Ebola, at the Mpondwe border crossing with Congo, in western Uganda, June 14, 2019. VOA

The designation usually triggers more funding and political awareness about the situation. The current Ebola outbreak in DRC has killed more than 1,400 people since it emerged last August. This week the virus spread to Uganda and there are worries the outbreak, which is also close to the borders of Rwanda and South Sudan, could spread to other countries.

ALSO READ: Ebola Outbreak in Uganda Raise Fears of Spread First Time Beyond Congo

The acting chair of the WHO emergency committee, Preben Aavitsland, said Friday that as long as the outbreaks continue in Congo, “there will be a risk of spread to neighboring countries.” However, he said, “the risk of spread to countries outside the region remains low.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday that he accepted the panel’s advice. Tedros, who is in DRC to review the Ebola response, told reporters that “although the outbreak does not at this time pose a global health emergency, I want to emphasize that this outbreak is very much an emergency” for those who are affected by the disease. (VOA)