DR Congo declares measles outbreak

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has declared an epidemic of measles, which the health ministry says has killed more people than Ebola.

A measles outbreak in the country has killed some 1,500 people, around 100 more than those who have died of Ebola.

Around 87,000 suspected measles cases have been reported across the DR Congo since the beginning of the year, 22,000 more than the number of recorded in the entire 2018.

The country’s health ministry announced the measles figures when it declared the epidemic.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Tuesday said 1,500 people have died of measles in the first five months of 2019. This is the highest figure since 2012, which was the deadliest measles epidemic of the last decade.

The DR Congo is also struggling to contain an Ebola outbreak in its North Kivu province.

According to the health ministry, the disease has so far killed 1,390 people, and fears are rife that it could spill over into neighbouring countries like Uganda.

MSF called for “a massive mobilisation of all relevant national and international organisations in order to vaccinate more children and treat patients” affected by measles.

The health ministry said its vaccination campaign would target a further 1.4 million infants, and that 2.2 million had been vaccinated in April.

Health officials say comprehensive vaccination programmes are the only way to prevent measles spreading out of control, but say ill-informed opposition can sometimes scupper such plans.

The United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) launched a campaign #VaccinesWork in April to counter a backlash against vaccination by some parents in different parts of the world.