News / Health

UN Works to Contain Disease Epidemics in Two African Countries

A child from the Central African Republic receives a measles vaccine in a refugee camp set up by the UNHCR in Nangungue, eastern Cameroon, April 12, 2013.A child from the Central African Republic receives a measles vaccine in a refugee camp set up by the UNHCR in Nangungue, eastern Cameroon, April 12, 2013.
x
A child from the Central African Republic receives a measles vaccine in a refugee camp set up by the UNHCR in Nangungue, eastern Cameroon, April 12, 2013.
A child from the Central African Republic receives a measles vaccine in a refugee camp set up by the UNHCR in Nangungue, eastern Cameroon, April 12, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
United Nations agencies are mounting emergency operations to contain an epidemic of measles in the Central African Republic and of cholera in Niger.

The recent rebellion against the former regime of Francois Bozize in the Central African Republic [CAR] is taking a heavy toll on children. Last month, eight children tested positive for measles in the capital, Bangui, raising alarm at the possibility of the spread of this killer disease.

The U.N. Children’s Fund says months of extreme violence and the collapse of law and order in the country has led to a breakdown of basic services, and it has increased the risk of disease outbreaks in the Central African Republic.

Children at risk

Even before the country became engulfed in fighting, only 62 percent of CAR’s children were vaccinated for measles. UNICEF spokeswoman, Marixie Mercado said this low vaccination rate, along with poor living conditions, is putting the lives of large numbers of children at risk of disease.

She said UNICEF, its partners, and the CAR Ministry of Health are aiming to reach and protect 125,000 children from measles during the emergency vaccination campaign this week in Bangui.

“The campaign represents an important first step in efforts by the Ministry of Health and Partners to re-establish measles immunization across the country. Outside of Bangui where UNICEF and others were able to provide fuel to keep health centers operational, the entire cold chain system has broken down," said Mercado. "Health centers have been looted - including fridges and solar panels - and health staff have yet to return to their posts. The vaccination drive is possible because of a slight improvement in security in Bangui in recent weeks.”  

Mercado said one-quarter of a million vaccines arrived in Bangui on May 15 for the campaign. She said vaccines have been distributed to all of Bangui’s eight districts, and hundreds of vaccinators and other health workers are in place. In addition, she said district-by-district drives are being planned immediately after the Bangui campaign.

Deadly cholera epidemic

Another health crisis has broken out in the West African country of Niger. On May 11, the government declared the country was in the grip of a cholera epidemic. The disease has left seven people dead in the western part of the country, including two Malian refugees.

The U.N. refugee agency says the two refugees, a 45-year-old man and a three-year old boy died, after arriving at a health center in Niger at a late stage of the disease. Both were refugees in the Mangaize camp, which hosts 15,000 in the Tillaberi region, including refugees from Mali.

UNHCR spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming said the contamination, which caused the cholera outbreak, came from the community.

“So, UNHCR and partners are taking measures not only inside the refugee camp, but also in the community. The contamination came, as cholera typically does, through the consumption of contaminated water, we believe, from the nearby river,” she said.

Fleming said the UNHCR is working to spread public health messages in Niger for refugees in the camps, as well as for people in the local community. She said a vaccination campaign for the population at risk, both inside and outside the refugee camps, is a key measure under consideration.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid