Measles kill over 1,000 DR Congo children since January: UN (Update)

A measles epidemic has killed 1,145 children in the Democratic Republic of Congo since January, the UN's Humanitarian Affairs mission in Kinshasa said Monday.

The epidemic "has already affected 115,600 children and killed 1,145" between January and June, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

This prompted the vaccination of 3.1 million children across five provinces, it added.

The campaign swung into action on May 10 after the NGO Medecins Sans Frontiers - Doctors Without Borders (MSF) deplored "the lack of reactivity" of organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO) to what it termed an "uncontrollable" epidemic.

Vaccination is continuing in two provinces, the WHO said.

Measles is extremely contagious and can cause severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and, in extreme cases, blindness and death.

It is one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite a safe vaccine being available.

In 2010, 5,407 cases were reported in DR Congo, leading to 82 deaths, up from 899 cases and 26 deaths the year before.

DR Congo is also battling cholera and polio epidemics that have claimed 250 people since March, and is the country with one of the world's highest child mortality rates -- 148 out of every 1,000 live births.

The WHO responded to MSF's criticism by calling for dialogue.

"If you have criticism, the best thing is to open dialogue to see what is not going well," WHO coordinator Ayigan Kossi told AFP.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Emergency polio campaign in 3 African nations

Nov 12, 2010

(AP) -- International aid groups said Thursday they're launching a mass polio immunization campaign in three Central African nations in response to a polio outbreak suspected in more than 100 deaths and deemed "unusual" ...

Expect 200,000 Haiti cholera cases: expert

Nov 23, 2010

A top health expert warned on Tuesday that Haiti could face as many as 200,000 cases of cholera in the coming three months and needs urgent supplies to treat an explosion of cases of the deadly disease.

Recommended for you

Don't let chronic heartburn spoil your Thanksgiving feast

20 minutes ago

(HealthDay) —Planning on seconds at Thanksgiving Day dinner this year? If you suffer from chronic heartburn—clinically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—a few steps may help minimize the ...

Long wait yet for Ebola vaccine: experts

3 hours ago

It will be months, at least, before a vaccine becomes available to tackle Ebola, experts said Thursday as researchers reported success in early, safety tests with a leading candidate.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.