Measles has caused over twice as many deaths as Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this year, UNICEF has announced.
The organisation and its partners have stepped up measles vaccination campaigns in the region to help address the issue.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 5,000 people have died due to measles in the DRC, over 90 per cent of them children under the age of five, said UNICEF Representative in the DRC Edouard Beigbeder.
“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,” he said.
Violence and insecurity, lack of access to healthcare and shortages of vaccines and medical kits in the worst-affected areas have seen thousands of children miss out on vaccinations. Beigbeder said significant investment to strengthen the DRC’s national vaccination programme and wider healthcare systems is vital.
UNICEF is also supporting the governments of Samoa, Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga to respond to the current major measles outbreak in the Pacific region. As of 28 November, almost 300,000 vaccines and medical supplies have been delivered to reach populations most at-risk in the region.