Authorities declare measles epidemic in DR Congo's Maniema

More than 450 cases have so far been reported, says provincial official.

Authorities declare measles epidemic in DR Congo's Maniema

Governor of eastern Maniema province in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday declared a measles epidemic in his province.

Affani Idrissa Mangala told reporters that more than 450 cases have so far been reported since the beginning of 2021.

The declaration followed confirmation of the samples sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) in the country.

“Since the tenth week of 2021, Kunda Health Zone in Kasongo territory has already reported 458 cases and 17 deaths from measles. After analysis, carried out by the INRB on samples taken from the health area of Bikenge during the 42nd week, the epidemic was confirmed,” he said.

“In view of the above, we declare the measles outbreak in Maniema province and seek the support of the central government, development and humanitarian partners to effectively combat this outbreak,” he added.

He called on the residents to be vigilant and to consult the nearest health centers in case of fever, generalized rash, conjunctivitis, cough and cold.

The epidemic reappears amid ongoing strike by nurses in public health facilities.

In 2020, more than 22 million infants missed their first dose of measles vaccine – 3 million more than in 2019, marking the most significant increase in two decades, said the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a report Wednesday.

Compared with the previous year, reported measles cases decreased by more than 80% in 2020, according to the report.

Adding to the worsening of global immunity gaps, 24 measles vaccination campaigns in 23 countries, initially planned for 2020, were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That left more than 93 million people at risk for the disease.

Hüseyin Demir