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Uganda on alert as measles epidemic ravages DRC

By Taddeo Bwambale

Added 15th January 2020 08:50 PM

At least 6,000 people have died in the neighbouring country in what the World Health Organisation has described as the “world’s worst measles epidemic.”

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A massive measles vaccination campaign was carried out in Uganda in 2019. AFP Photo

At least 6,000 people have died in the neighbouring country in what the World Health Organisation has described as the “world’s worst measles epidemic.”

Ugandans are not at risk of contracting measles, an immunisable disease that has killed thousands of people in several countries, including the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The health ministry on Wednesday said there were no immediate threats of cross-border infections after Uganda stepped up mass immunization against the disease last year.

“Our children are protected. Our mass measles and rubella vaccination went well and we expect no threat,” Emmanuel Ainebyona, the health ministry’s senior publicist told New Vision.

He, however, said surveillance teams were monitoring the situation in Congo to prevent cross-border infections.

At least 6,000 people have died in the neighbouring country in what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described as the “world’s worst measles epidemic.”

Health officials have appealed for funding to tame the epidemic. The country needs at least $40m to implement a six-month plan to extend vaccinations to children between the ages of six and 14.

At the start of last year, 310,000 suspected measles cases reported in the central African nation despite more than 18 million children under the age of five being vaccinated across the country.

Low vaccination rates, malnutrition, weak public health systems, outbreaks of other diseases, and insecurity have compounded the health challenges faced by the government.

DRC is not the only country struggling to fight the measles outbreak; in December, Samoa declared a state of emergency after experiencing an outbreak.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease is almost always preventable through the administration of a safe and effective vaccine, according to the WHO.

In 2018, the WHO revealed that over 140,000 people globally had died from measles, mostly children.

Last year, Uganda embarked on a nationwide measles-rubella vaccination campaign to forestal infections from the killer diseases.

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