DRC health minister declares measles epidemic, urges mass vaccinations

11 June 2019 - 14:50 By afp
A Congolese health worker administers the Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the North Kivu province of the DRC on August 18 2018. The DRC has been struggling to contain an Ebola outbreak, and now has to contend with a measles epidemic.
A Congolese health worker administers the Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the North Kivu province of the DRC on August 18 2018. The DRC has been struggling to contain an Ebola outbreak, and now has to contend with a measles epidemic.
Image: REUTERS/Olivia Acland

Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) health minister has declared an epidemic of measles, with the country already struggling to contain the outbreak of deadly Ebola disease since last August.

Medical teams have confirmed 677 cases of measles among 87,000 suspected cases in 23 provinces, Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement on Monday.

The tally represents a seven-fold increase on the same period in 2018, he added. He urged parents to vaccinate their children.

In April, 2.24 million children aged between six and 59 months were vaccinated over four days, and another immunisation campaign covering 1.4 million children will be launched "in the coming days," he said.

"To stop the chain of measles transmission and prevent future epidemics, at least 95% of the population have to be vaccinated," the minister said.

The Ebola outbreak in the DRC, in the east of the country, has claimed more than 1,300 lives since August 1.

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