Tuesday October 15, 2019

World’s Largest Measles Outbreak Kills More than 4,000 People in Congo this Year

The Central African nation is also battling an Ebola outbreak that has killed about half that number since August 2018

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World, Measles, Congo
FILE - A child is immunized against measles at a clinic in eastern Congo, Nov. 13, 2008. VOA

More than 4,000 people have died in Congo this year in the world’s largest measles outbreak, the United Nations children’s agency said Wednesday.

The Central African nation is also battling an Ebola outbreak that has killed about half that number since August 2018.

Since January, more than 200,000 cases of measles have been reported across Congo, UNICEF said. More than 140,000 involve children under 5, who also make up nearly 90 percent of deaths.

“We’re facing this alarming situation because millions of Congolese children miss out on routine immunization and lack access to health care when they fall sick,” said the UNICEF country representative, Edouard Beigbeder. “On top of that, a weak health system, insecurity, community mistrust of vaccines and vaccinators, and logistical challenges all contribute to a huge number of unvaccinated children at risk of contracting the disease.”

World, Measles, Congo
FILE – Health workers wearing protective gear check on a patient isolated in a plastic cube at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo, July 13, 2019. VOA

Health officials are facing many of the same challenges in the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo that has killed more than 2,000 people. Multiple armed groups have been fighting over the mineral-rich land for decades and threatening residents. The insecurity has led to mistrust of authorities, including health workers.

UNICEF said health workers were rushing additional medical kits to help care for more than 110,000 people infected with the measles, a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus. More than 1.4 million children have been vaccinated this year.

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The U.N. agency said Congo’s government will launch a vaccination campaign at the end of October to make sure children in every province are vaccinated. (VOA)

Next Story

World is More Divided than Ever

Vyacheslav Nikonov, member of Russia's State Duma who was in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, said there was a growing gap

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World, Divided, Berlin Wall
Martin Schulz, former President of the European Parliament, expressed his disappointment that bipolarity was still present, and voiced his concern about the "unpredictable way the US President is acting" that does not facilitate dialogue. Pixabay

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world is more divided than ever, thus dialogue was urgently needed to build a more inclusive and peaceful future, experts said at the opening of the two-day Rhodes Forum.

The 17th Rhodes Forum, titled “Global (dis)order: Towards dialogue-based worldviews”, on Friday brought together over 300 attendees from 50 countries and regions, including political leaders, business people and scholars, to discuss pressing issues facing the world today, reports Xinhua news agency.

Martin Schulz, former President of the European Parliament, expressed his disappointment that bipolarity was still present, and voiced his concern about the “unpredictable way the US President is acting” that does not facilitate dialogue.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, member of Russia’s State Duma who was in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, said there was a growing gap between the “two new poles, the West and greater Eurasia”.

World, Divided, Berlin Wall
The 17th Rhodes Forum, titled “Global (dis)order: Towards dialogue-based worldviews”, on Friday brought together over 300 attendees from 50 countries and regions, including political leaders, business people. Pixabay

The role of the European Union (EU) in the world facing growing uncertainties is also a hot topic here.

Schulz said that he was confident that the EU would not fall apart and could play a significant part in building bridges of communication.

“Support for the EU is growing after the start of the Brexit discourse, but the continent’s Achilles’ heel is the fact that what we are seeing is a more geopolitical Europe,” said Shada Islam, policy director of Friends of Europe, a leading Brussels-based think tank.

For his part, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested keeping calm. “Despite strong rhetoric, the reality is different and no one is ready to pay a heavy cost with a confrontation,” he said.

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The Rhodes Forum is organised annually by the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, an independent think tank headquartered in Berlin, whose goal is to forge shared world views through dialogue. (IANS)