By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The number of measles fatalities in the world’s worst measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has topped 6,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The 6,000 deaths are part of the astounding 310,000 measles cases reported since January 2019. UN officials say this massive outbreak is due to multiple factors: low vaccination coverage among vulnerable communities, malnutrition, weak public health systems, outbreaks of other epidemic-prone diseases, difficult access by vulnerable populations to health care and insecurity that has hampered response in some areas.
Vaccination efforts in the DRC have accounted for the immunization of 18 million children under five across the country in 2019. Despite the efforts, routine vaccination coverage remains low in some areas.
WHO is calling for more money to extend vaccination programs in the DRC. To date, US$ 27.6 million have been mobilized. However, a further US$ 40 million are required for a six-month plan to extend the vaccination to children between six and 14 years and to reinforce elements of the outbreak response beyond vaccination, including improving treatment, health education, community engagement, health system strengthening, epidemiological surveillance and response coordination.
“We recognize 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 WHO office in the DRC. “Thousands of Congolese families need our help to lift the burden of this prolonged epidemic from their backs. We cannot achieve this without adequate finances.”
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