NewsDesk @bactiman63

The World Health Organization reports the annual number of confirmed measles cases in Ethiopia has increased significantly since 2021.

Image/Robert Herriman

Between 12 August 2021 and 1 May 2023, 16,814 laboratory-confirmed measles cases and 182 deaths – with a Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) of 1.1% – have been reported nationally.

Cases have risen from 1953 in 2021 to 9291(˃375%) in 2022 and 6933 in 2023 as of 1 May. Thus, there was, an almost five-fold increase in confirmed measles cases between 2021 and 2022.

While Ethiopia is endemic for measles and reports cases every year, the recent increases may be due to low population immunity, combined with concurrent epidemics, conflict, forced displacement, and other humanitarian crises that disrupt childhood vaccinations.

The following measures have been undertaken in the country to control the outbreak:

  • Nationwide measles-preventive supplemental immunization activities (SIA) have been conducted from 22-31 December 2022, in all areas except those affected by conflict (all woredas in Tigray, 12 districts in Oromia, and seven in Benishangul Gumuz).
  • A total of 14 579 818 under 5 children were vaccinated out of a target of 15 471 740 resulting in 94.2% coverage.
  • Starting in February 2022, a catch-up measles vaccination campaign was launched, targeting children aged 9 to 23 months. This campaign was conducted in 55 woredas that are high-risk or have been affected by conflict in the Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, and Somali Regions. The campaign was integrated with vitamin A supplementation and other routine immunization efforts.
  • Support to improve case management, including capacity building and procurement for medications and supplies.
  • Intensification of surveillance activities, including active case search by health extension workers, root cause analyses, and detailed investigations in affected woredas.
  • Intensification of routine immunization through outreach services
  • Training for frontline responders
  • Community engagement and risk communication activities are being conducted through a locally tailored approach.