According to the World Health Organization, the Democratic Republic of Congo is seeing the world’s biggest outbreak of measles. Of the 5000 people who have succumbed to the disease, the vast majority have been children.
A total of 250,270 cases of measles have been recorded as of November 17 with 5110 fatalities. This is more than double the toll taken by Ebola. More than 90% of the recorded fatalities were children aged 5 and younger.
The DRC declared an epidemic in September and have launched an emergency vaccination campaign. This should be completed by the end of 2019 according to the WHO.
Measles is highly contagious and violence and insecurity add to the factors that already hamper people from getting adequate healthcare. Children are especially vulnerable and the disease can have severe effects including blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, as well as severe respiratory infections.
Unicef’s Edouard Beigbeder said: “While the Ebola outbreak, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives in the eastern DRC, has commanded sustained international attention, measles, which has claimed more than twice as many lives, continues to be underreported,”
The UN has now initiated training of Ebola teams in the DRC to manage the many cases of measles.