Deaths from DRC measles outbreak surpasses 6,000

14 January 2020

Article: 54/202

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for more funding to combat the measles outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), after reporting over 6,000 deaths.

Under the leadership of the DRC Ministry of Health, the WHO, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and other partner agencies vaccinated more than 18 million children under five years-old across the DRC in 2019. However, in some areas, routine vaccination coverage remains low and 25% of the reported measles cases are in children over the age of five.

Since the start of 2019, around 310,000 suspected measles cases have been reported. The epidemic has been aggravated by low vaccination coverage among vulnerable communities, malnutrition, weak public health systems, outbreaks of other epidemic-prone diseases and healthcare access issues.

Despite $27.6 million having been spent, a lack of funding remains an issue, with a further $40 million required for a six-month plan to extend the vaccination to children between six and 14 years and to improve the outbreak response beyond vaccination to include improving treatment, health education, community engagement, epidemiological surveillance and response coordination.

The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, Médecins du Monde, Médecins Sans Frontières, United Nations Children’s Fund, the WHO and other partners have been supporting the DRC government to bring the epidemic under control. In December 2019, the WHO trained 60 health professionals from the DRC Ministry of Health to conduct a range of services including community engagement, health education and surveillance. These health professionals are currently being deployed as part of the response.

Source: WHO, 7 January 2020