13 June 2013: Since 2011, large measles outbreaks have swept through the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), claiming the lives of an estimated 4,000 people. Forty-nine of the country’s 515 health districts are currently in epidemic, and they have reported 750 deaths in the first half of 2013.
The provinces of Equateur, Orientale, North Kivu and South Kivu account for 79 per cent of all reported cases of measles in the DRC. With 554 deaths out of the total 750, these provinces are also the deadliest, with a case fatality rate of 73 per cent.
The DRC epidemic confirmed that the epidemiology of measles has changed. School-age children are increasingly infected; previously, most patients were children under age 5. Thus, current age-ranged vaccination campaigns must be expanded to include children aged 6 months to 10 years.
In response, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) provided a rapid response grant of US$4,000,071 to two UN agencies.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received $3,101,638, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has received $898,433. Together, these two agencies will mount an emergency campaign to fight the measles outbreaks in the DRC.
The allocations are expected to benefit 11 million people, including some 5.7 million children under age 5.