By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is experiencing the world’s largest measles outbreak in 2019.

DRC map
Democratic Republic of the Congo/CIA

Health officials have now reported 250,270 total cases and 5,110 deaths through November 3.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week that some 2.2 million children are to be vaccinated against measles in North Kivu, where efforts are underway to curb the world’s second-worst Ebola outbreak amid persistent insecurity.

This drive closes the second phase of a preventive vaccination campaign and will be followed by a third and final phase planned in 10 remaining provinces: Bas Uélé, Equateur, Haut Katanga, Haut Lomami, Haut Uélé, Kasai Oriental, Lualaba, Maniema, Mongala and Tshuapa.

This mass follow-up campaign will ultimately reach 18.9 million children across the country by the end of the year, particularly targeting those who may have been missed by routine immunization.

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“While the Ebola outbreak in the DRC has won the world’s attention and progress is being made in saving lives, we must not forget the other urgent health needs the country faces,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “This new vaccination campaign aims to protect children in North Kivu, as well as other parts of the country from a disease that is easily preventable with a vaccine.”

Low immunization rates and high levels of malnutrition have contributed to the measles epidemic and associated high rates of mortality.