More than 6,000 people have died in from the world’s worst measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
It called for more funding to stop the outbreak.
“We are doing our utmost to bring this epidemic under control. Yet to be truly successful we must ensure that no child faces the unnecessary risk of death from a disease that is easily preventable by a vaccine. We urge our donor partners to urgently step up their assistance,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
More than 18 million children under five across the country were vaccinated in 2019 through efforts by the DRC Ministry of Health, WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and other partner aid agencies. However, in some areas, routine vaccination coverage remains low and 25 percent of the reported measles cases are in children over the age of five.
In a statement on January 7, 2019, WHO says that around 310,000 suspected measles cases were reported in 2019.
So far, $27.6 million has been raised. However, a further $40 million is required for a six-month plan to extend the vaccination to children between six and 14 years. It will also be used to improve treatment and health education, for community engagement, health system strengthening, epidemiological surveillance and response coordination.
“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,” said Dr Amédée Prosper Djiguimdé, Officer in charge of WHO office in the DRC.
In December 2019, WHO trained an additional 60 health professionals from the Ministry of Health to conduct a range of services, including community engagement, health education and surveillance.