from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – MORE than 700 people have died over the past month in what is now the world’s largest and most severe measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The 707 deaths are from 35 742 cases the World Health Organisation (WHO) has documented since November 11.
Measles spread to 53 new health zones during the period.
It brings to 5 430 deaths recorded from a total of 269 079 cases since January 1.
The outbreak has been laboratory confirmed in 241 health zones, almost half the DRC.
All 26 provinces are affected by the deadly outbreak.
This outbreak has already caused more deaths compared to the ongoing Ebola virus disease outbreak, which has received global attentions.
Cases of measles continue to be reported from Ituri and North Kivu provinces, which are concurrently affected by the Ebola.
WHO reported that insufficient routine immunisation coverage and high levels of malnutrition had contributed to the rapid expansion of the measles epidemic and its associated high mortality rates.
In addition, the under-performance of case-based surveillance has impaired rapid detection of suspected measles cases, which is necessary to guide timely and effective outbreak response interventions.
“In order to put an end to this outbreak, there is a need to strengthen routine and reactive immunisation activities, measles case-based surveillance and case management,” said a WHO spokesperson.
To date, more than 5,2 million children have been vaccinated in 165 health zones.
Measles is a high contagious illness, mostly affecting children.
– CAJ News