London, September 26, 2019 (CABNC): The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the current outbreak of Measles in Democratic Republic of Congo as the world’s largest and fastest moving epidemic after over 3,500 people have died this year. The disease has spread to every part of the country and has killed more Congolese people this year than Ebola, despite previous rounds of immunisations. “As of 17 September, a total of 183,837 suspected measles cases (5,989 confirmed) had been reported in 192 of the 519 health zones nationwide, including 3,667 deaths – which exceed the number of deaths due to Ebola. Nearly all the deaths have been children,” the WHO said in a statement.
WHO and the Congolese government are aiming to carry out an emergency vaccination programme across the country targeting about 825,000 children in 24 regions, over a period of nine days.
“The DRC is experiencing a dire situation because too many children were missed by routine immunisation. [The outbreak] is deadly because the case management is not there,” said Dr Deo Nshimirimana, WHO representative to DR Congo.
“We don’t have the resources really to prevent the disease and also to try to prevent the deaths so measles is very deadly in this country. We are trying our best really to prevent the disease, but also to try to have resources to get supplies so that we can manage the cases.”
Every one of the country’s 26 provinces has reported cases of measles and is battling to control this outbreak, which the ministry of health declared on 10 June. DR Congo has struggled to get the outbreak under control, given the insecurity in the east of the country and people’s suspicion of treatments. Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious health complications, including infections of the lungs and brain.