AFRICA/CONGO-Measles outbreak: 32 deaths and hundreds of people infected

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Brazzaville (Agenzia Fides) - At least 32 people have died and 800 have been infected following a measles epidemic that has struck the southern regions of Pointe Noire and Kouilou, in the Republic of Congo. In a previous outbreak, in 2006-2007, about 3 000 cases were registered. "Over the past 5 or 6 years our system of vaccinations has been greatly neglected, particularly in Pointe-Noire, and the current epidemic reflects these weaknesses", said Didi-Ngossaki, responsible of the program on the Vaccines of the World Health Organization, in a statement released by the agency IRIN. Of the 800 confirmed cases, 624 have been hospitalized. About 15% of children had not been vaccinated. The problem is particularly serious.
The first cases were recorded in December 2010, but the disease had been neglected because of an outbreak of polio in the same period. Initially the cases were few, then it spread over time. All these cases of measles have been attributed to low vaccine coverage caused by the precarious organization of health services and the sporadic supply of these services in 2010. To decongest the Adolphe Sice Hospital, where the most infected people in Pointe Noire are concentrated, some have been transferred to hospitals in Loandjili and Congo Malembé. As of June 22 there will be a one-month intensive campaign of vaccination against measles for all children between six and eight months in the regions of Pointe-Noire and Kouilou. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/06/2011)