News / Africa

UN: Ivory Coast Measles Outbreak Linked to Political Crisis

Health workers Wednesday begin vaccinating more than a half million children in Ivory Coast, after an outbreak of measles that the United Nations says is the result of disruption in health services caused by the country's ongoing political crisis.

Ivory Coast's health ministry has confirmed 47 cases of measles since the first of the year.  Nearly 80 percent of those are children under the age of five, nearly all of whom were not properly vaccinated.

The U.N. children's agency says this outbreak is a direct result of the collapse of much of the healthcare system during the ongoing political crisis between Ivory Coast's rival governments.

"Health centers are obviously at great risk.  A lot of health workers are not at their post because of fear of insecurity.  And also there are many shortages of essential drugs throughout the country," said Louis Vigneault-Dubois, the UNICEF communications officer in Ivory Coast.

"The political crisis here has intensified the consequences on the population.  We have to bear in mind that the people of Cote d'Ivoire were already made vulnerable by the continued fall-out of the political crisis that started actually in 2002 but that intensified since last December.  So I think that the epidemics that we are starting to see now, we had yellow fever, cholera, and measles, are merely the tip of the iceberg of the humanitarian consequences that we could see in the coming weeks if the situation doesn't change," he said.

More than 35,000 Ivorians have fled the country since the disputed vote between incumbent president Laurent Gbabgo and the United-Nations-certified winner of the election, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara.

Another 40,000 people are displaced within the country, but there is no evidence that this measles outbreak has yet spread to displaced populations.  For the moment, it is limited to the districts of Adiake and Aboisso.

Vigneault-Dubois says those districts near the commercial capital Abidjan are the target of this two-step vaccination program. "First is to do a rapid campaign to vaccinate as many kids as we can.  So that means about half a million children under five will be vaccinated in the next week.  But also it is important for us to make sure that we can mitigate the effects of the crisis on the health system and make sure that we can strengthen the routine vaccination throughout the country," he said.

UNICEF's nationwide immunization program has been disrupted by a breakdown in the "cold chain," temperature controlled supply links, necessary to preserve the quality of vaccines. "We want to make sure that we can restore the cold chain in the entire country.  And as soon as this is fixed, we will be able to carry out the measles campaign nationwide, which will include, of course, displaced people," said Vigneault-Dubois.

Measles is a potentially-deadly infectious disease for children. The confirmed number of measles cases in Ivory Coast has grown steadily over the last three years from 22 cases in 2008 to 183 cases in 2009 to 433 cases in 2010.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs