Health officials in the Central African country of Cameroon are expressing concern over the measles epidemic that has been spreading across the country. To date, 858 cases have been recorded in some “hard-to-reach” communities, according to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
To compound the issue, health authorities say the outbreak has spread to areas controlled by the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram. The security situation in the Far North Region is critical. The government of Cameroon government has declared a state of emergency in the region.
In a IFRC statement, Of all the recorded cases, the Mokolo health district (Mayo-Tsanaga department) in the Far North region accounts for 587 cases, with a population of 211,906 inhabitants, presents an extremely concerning attack rate.
They go on to say the Mokolo health district is located close to the Chadian and Nigerian border, raising the risk of measles epidemic spreading. It can quickly engulf all the three countries making the situation difficult to address, given the implementation challenges experienced in the areas which are extremely insecure.
Measles and rubella are serious and contagious diseases with serious consequences. However, they can be eliminated by vaccination; however, for vaccination to be effective to a population level, coverage must remain above 80 per cent and coverage in Cameroon has been consistently below this level, meaning significant parts of the population are at risk including infants (too young to be vaccinated).
The IFRC is strategizing to get children in the area vaccinated which includes human resources, security, logistics and supply chain and communications.