MSF: Urgent resources needed to tackle world’s largest measles epidemic in the DRC
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has warned that urgent resources are needed to tackle the world’s largest measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The DRC is currently grappling with the sedcond-largest outbreak of Ebola in history, which has killed 2,227 people, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the country’s current measles epidemic has killed 5,600 and infected more than 280,000 despite not attracting the same international attention as the battle against Ebola.
Largest measles epidemic in the world
“Measles has now spread to all 26 provinces of the country and more resources must be urgently committed to target areas where the outbreak is still raging,” MSF said in a statement released on Monday. The organisation says official estimates for the spread of the disease only represent “a fraction” of the real numbers, based upon its own research.
Doctors Without Borders is urging donors to increase support in order to tacle the spread of the disease.
“Several factors contribute to the rapid spread of this epidemic,” MSD said, “In some regions of the country, there is an extremely low immunization coverage. This is due not only to a shortage of the measles vaccine in DRC, but, when vaccines are available, access is limited—the national vaccination program cannot keep up with the needs and many people don’t have access to health facilities.”
The organisation also said the Ebola outbreak has directly impacted the spread of measles, too, by further stretching the medical resources in large parts of the country, particularly in North Kivu.
Featured image: “UNICEF Vaccinates Children against Measles in DRC” flickr photo by United Nations Photo https://flickr.com/photos/un_photo/3836516957 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license