As the world grapples with the spread of the new novel coronavirus, authorities in western Democratic Republic of Congo are battling a deadly measles outbreak.
More than 6,000 people have died from measles in the DR Congo in one year, making it the worst epidemic in the world.
This triples the toll of the Ebola epidemic in the country. It also nearly doubles the 3,404 people who have died from the coronavirus so far.
“There are those who are in the acute phase of measles i.e. they have the signs of severe disease, such as respiratory problems, inflamed conjunctivitis and fever”, a Doctor with Doctors without Borders, Médéric Monier said.
The World Health Organization is calling for additional emergency funds for a six-month immunization plan for children to help curb the epidemic.A second round of vaccinations has just begun this week.
“Measles causes a lot of suffering. I didn’t go to work in the fields to come here and vaccinate my children”, Elodine Nsasi, a local resident said.
About 73,000 children between six months and 15 years of age will be vaccinated in central Kongo province in the second phase.
Last year, more than 18 million children under the age of five were vaccinated against measles in DR Congo and about 310,000 suspected cases were reported.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that mainly attacks children. The most serious complications are blindness, swelling of the brain, diarrhoea and severe respiratory infections.