The number of deaths caused by measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reached the four thousand mark Oct. 9, according to UNICEF.
Between January and October of this year, more than 200,000 cases of measles have been reported in the country’s 26 provinces, with over 4,000 deaths during that time, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported Wednesday.
UNICEF is coordinating the vaccination program for infants in the DRC as those under five years of age represent 74 per cent of all infected, and approximately 90 per cent of the death rate.
The number of measles cases in the DRC has tripled compared to 2018 and has caused more deaths than Ebola, which to date has killed around two thousand people.
“We are fighting the measles epidemic on two fronts: preventing infections and preventing deaths,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in the country.
“Together with the government and sponsors, UNICEF is accelerating children’s measles vaccines and at the same time providing clinics with drugs that can treat symptoms and improve the chances of survival for all those affected,” he said.
Beigbeder concluded that “if we want to avoid massive measles epidemics like this in the future, we must invest significantly to strengthen national immunization programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and fill the serious gaps in coverage.”