from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – AT LEAST 3 559 people have died from a worsening outbreak of measles in the disease-plagued Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Over 180 000 suspected cases have been reported during the period.
The disease has emerged the silent killer as the world’s attention remains focused on the eruption of Ebola which has killed more than 2 000 people.
Measles has proven more fatal, with children constituting a majority of those dead.
According to humanitarian organisations responding to the crisis, minors account for 88 percent of the death toll.
The increase in cases and geographical spread of the measles outbreak has seen 484 out of 519 health zones in DRC affected.
North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which are also struggling with an Ebola outbreak, are seeing a gradual increase in new measles cases.
There is an average of 297 cases per week in Ituri and 175 in North Kivu.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) of the United Nations (UN) attributed the resurgence of measles in DRC to inadequate routine immunisation coverage and insufficient implementation of supplementary immunisation activities.
WHO needs US$12,35 million (R181,5 million) for new vaccination campaigns.
Only $4 million (58,8 million) is available.
Apart from the disease combination, which also includes cholera, DRC is also battling an upsurge of rebel groups rendering the country ungovernable.
– CAJ News