A measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 5,000 people this year, many of them young children, the World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed.
Low immunization rates and high levels of malnutrition have fuelled the epidemic and high mortality rates, especially in North Kivu province, which is also suffering from an Ebola epidemic.
A first measles vaccination campaign was launched to protect people against the infectious disease that has struck all of the country’s 26 provinces.
A third phase of the campaign is planned, with the ultimate aim of reaching 18.9 million children across the country by the end of the year.
Vaccination is most challenging in North Kivu due to insecurity following armed attacks that make some areas inaccessible to aid workers.
The world’s second biggest Ebola epidemic on record has killed more than 2,200 people since mid-2018, but new infections slowed in recent months, the WHO said last week, while warning that Ebola was likely to resurge.