News / Africa

Measles Epidemic Continues to Spread in Horn of Africa

A Somali child refugee receives a vaccine for measles at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) transit center in Dolo Ado near the Ethiopia-Somalia border, August 11, 2011
A Somali child refugee receives a vaccine for measles at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) transit center in Dolo Ado near the Ethiopia-Somalia border, August 11, 2011

United Nations aid agencies report measles is continuing to spread at an alarming rate throughout drought-stricken Horn of Africa.   Aid agencies are conducting vaccination campaigns in drought-affected countries to immunize millions of children against this killer disease and to try to contain its spread.  

More than 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia are affected by the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years.  Somalia, which is struggling with both drought and famine, is the most seriously affected.  Somalia is also bearing the brunt of the measles epidemic, which is sweeping through the Horn of Africa.

In July alone, the World Health Organization reports more than 1,000 suspected measles cases and 31 related deaths occurred in South and Central Somalia.  Since January, WHO says nearly 5,200 suspected measles cases were reported.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says the number of cases this year is several times higher than during the same period over the last two years.

"The major factors for a measles outbreak in Somalia are low coverage, malnutrition, population movements, and overcrowded internally displaced camps," he said.  "WHO fears that the measles outbreak could affect a high number of people, especially among the vulnerable IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] whose overall health is already fragile.  Measles can be prevented by vaccination.  The routine immunization coverage against measles in Somalia is only 29 percent."  

As a response to the measles outbreak, WHO, the U.N. Children’s Fund and partners have started an emergency vaccination campaign in all accessible areas of South and Central Somalia, which is under the control of the Islamist al-Shabab militants.  

UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says lack of access is a great cause of concern because it prevents aid agencies from reaching all children with the life-saving vaccines.

"Some of the new measles cases are from districts called Hiran and Lower Shibelle," she said. "In these areas, the measles coverage has been historically low, even below what is already a low national coverage because access has been so difficult.  What I heard from my colleague in the field today was that we were denied access as recently as two days ago to these areas, but we keep trying.  And, that is essentially how we are doing it.  We are immunizing as we can."  

Mercado says UNICEF has dispatched 700,000 doses of measles vaccines to Mogadishu, for the campaign starting Friday.  She says hundreds of thousands of children already have been immunized in IDP areas of Mogadishu and in Gedo.  She says the overall target is to immunize 2.5 million children between six months and 15 years old.

Elsewhere, Mercado notes mass measles campaigns are under way in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.

VOA correspondents Peter Heinlein and Gabe Joselow reported this past week from Mogadishu, Somalia, about the humanitarian situation there. Watch some of their  pictures:

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid