WHO, UNICEF see measles outbreak as threat to progress in child mortality in West, Central Africa

08:42, April 23, 2010      

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) issued a joint report here on Thursday, saying that 16 countries in West and Central Africa are in the throes of a measles outbreak.

The report said as of March 28 this year, a total of 22,364 cases and 185 deaths have been registered in West and Central Africa.

The report warned that a shortfall in funding for follow-up measles campaigns of around 16 million U.S. dollars for Africa will put children at risk if efforts are not sustained through an appropriate response from donors and governments.

According to the UN statistics, an average of 66 percent of children in West and Central Africa received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services in 2008.

The report said efforts by the African governments with support of partners such as the Measles have resulted in a reduction of 92 percent of cases during 2000-2008 in the region.

It added that in West and Central Africa, most of the countries have immunized only about 80 percent or less of their populations through routine immunization when the recommendation is to reach 95 percent.

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Luis Gomes Sambo pointed out that "such a figure means they can expect to have large, sustained outbreaks every three to four years."

The report singled out a major outbreak in Burkina Faso which resulted in more than 50,000 cases and 340 deaths and other outbreaks in Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Senegal that accounted for 16,808 reported cases and 68 deaths.

The report said 2010 is a pivotal year to reach the United Nations goal of reducing measles mortality by 90 percent from 2000 to 2010, warning that there is a risk of reversing the progress made if nothing is done to counter the resurgence in measles cases.



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