Measles deaths exceed 6 000 in DRC

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DRC flag

from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) THE death toll in the world’s worst measles epidemic, currently battering the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has surpassed 6 000.

Humanitarian organisations are battling financial challenges to curb the spread of the easily preventable disease that broke out at the beginning of 2019.

Around 310 000 suspected cases of this disease that kills mostly minors have been reported.

So far, US$27,6 million (R381 million) have been mobilized for the vaccinated more than 18 million children under five across the country. However, a further US$40 million (R570 million) is required for a six-month plan to extend the vaccination to children between six and 14 years.

“We recognise the government’s engagement in the efforts to end the outbreak and we are grateful for the generosity of our donors but we still need to do more,” said Dr Amédée Prosper Djiguimdé, officer in charge of World Health Organisation (WHO) in the DRC.

The official said thousands of Congolese families needed help to lift the burden of the prolonged epidemic.

“We cannot achieve this without adequate finances,” Djiguimdé said.

Insecurity, low vaccination coverage, malnutrition, weak public health systems and outbreaks of other epidemic-prone diseases have aggravated the measles crisis.

DRC is experiencing other deadly diseases like cholera and its worst outbreak of Ebola, which has claimed over 2 200 lives since August 2018.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO director for Africa, decried the vulnerability of children to measles.

“We urge our donor partners to urgently step up their assistance,” Moeti said.

– CAJ News

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