More international support needed to curb world’s biggest measles outbreak

  • United Nations
  • United Nations
  • 7 Jan 2020

  • curated by Priscilla Lynch
  • Univadis
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Countries are being asked to step up assistance to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is facing the world’s worst measles epidemic, with more than 6,000 deaths since the start of 2019.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said some 310,000 suspected cases of the disease have been reported since then.   

The UN agency and its partners have worked with the authorities to vaccinate more than 18 million children under five during 2019. However, coverage remains low in some areas, with under-fives accounting for a quarter of cases.

The outbreak is occurring as the DRC is battling other epidemic-prone diseases, including its worst ever Ebola epidemic. 

So far, more than $27 million has been mobilised for the response. However, another $40 million is needed for a six-month plan that would extend vaccination to children aged six to 14 years, said the UN.

Meanwhile, the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows that in 2019, 10 deaths due to measles were reported in the EU/EEA: Romania (5), France (2), Italy (1), Hungary (1) and UK (1).

Most measles cases in 2019 in the region were reported from Romania (3,308), France (2,613), Italy (1,605), Poland (1,492), and Bulgaria (1,230).