UNICEF responds to measles outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo
UNICEF has reported the measles epidemic is about to reach emergency levels. To stop the outbreak before it worsens, UNICEF has partnered with local health systems to offer measles prevention and treatments.
The outbreak is specifically in Katanga, a southeast province in Congo. As of Nov. 30, the measles outbreak killed over 500 people and infected over 47,000.
“The pace at which the current one is spreading is particularly worrying, as the number of health zones affected has climbed from only two at the end of last year to 24 in October this year,” Magali Carpy Botoulou, chief of UNICEF’s South Zone Office in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said.
This outbreak is the worst since 2011, when the most recent outbreak caused 134,000 measles cases. Many health care workers blame problems within the local health system for the severity of the outbreak.
Botoulou cited, “inefficiencies in the way the Expanded Programme on Immunization is managed, which results in low vaccination coverage; poor handling of the cold chain, which causes vaccines not to be stored properly; poor management of alerts and outbreaks, which results in delayed responses."