from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – HEALTH workers are racing against a number of challenges to halt the spread of the world’s worst outbreak of measles that is afflicting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
More than 6 000 people have died over the past year alone, with three quarters of fatalities being children. Over 310 000 people have been infected.
The outbreak has affected all 26 provinces of the volatile country that is experiencing a myriad of illnesses.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation, is battling to control the surge in the province of Kongo Central.
It is one of the main hotspots of the epidemic today.
The region is enduring complex health issues.
“Some of the main challenges we face are the complications linked with associated diseases such as malaria or malnutrition,” said an MSF spokesperson.
The official said these issues increased the risk of mortality.
Gaining access to remote hard-to-reach areas is also a risk owing to the insecurity posed by armed groups involved in skirmishes with the national army.
At least 424 attacks on health care occurred in the DRC between January and November 2019, according to Insecurity Insight.
The outbreak of measles has turned into the biggest measles outbreak of the past ten years in DRC and the biggest worldwide.
Measles, which spreads easily through coughs and sneezes, is highly contagious and affects mainly children.
In DRC, it comes at a time the country is also experiencing an outbreak of Ebola that has killed over 2 000 people since August 2018.
– CAJ News