Measles kills 14 in Zimbabwe as 17 500 instances recorded in Africa this yr

A health worker of the Congolese Ministry of Health is preparing a syringe with a measles vaccine dose. (Supplied by Bhekisisa, Samuel Sieber, MSF)

A well being employee of the Congolese Ministry of Well being is getting ready a syringe with a measles vaccine dose. (Equipped by Bhekisisa, Samuel Sieber, MSF)

  • Seventy-two instances of measles have been reported in an outbreak that has killed 14 youngsters in Zimbabwe.
  • Between January and March this yr, the WHO recorded about 17 500 instances in Africa.
  • The WHO conducts routine vaccination campaigns to counter vaccine-preventable ailments.

A measles outbreak in Zimbabwe has resulted within the loss of life of 14 youngsters in Manicaland, at a time when about 17 500 instances have been confirmed in Africa to date this yr.

In an announcement, Zimbabwe’s well being ministry mentioned 72 instances had been recorded.

“Up to now, a complete of 72 instances and 14 deaths have been reported. Of the reported instances, solely 9 had been vaccinated, whereas the rest had not been vaccinated or their vaccination standing is unknown,” mentioned the ministry.

With a low vaccination charge and, in some instances, no report preserving, the federal government has since resolved to start out a mass vaccination marketing campaign in areas the place the outbreak was recorded.

READ | WHO urges African international locations to combine routine vaccination programmes with Covid-19 jabs

“To regulate this outbreak, the ministry has began a mass vaccination marketing campaign in Mutasa District, Manicaland Province, focusing on the six months to fifteen years, no matter their vaccination standing,” the ministry mentioned.

The brand new instances recorded in Zimbabwe, with a mortality charge of 19.4%, are a shock to the nation’s shambolic well being sector – and the federal government has since referred to as on the World Well being Organisation (WHO) for help.

In Zimbabwe, measles, together with poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus and tuberculosis, are referred to as the “six youngster killer ailments”.

Preventing measles in Africa

“Virtually 17 500 instances of measles have been recorded within the African area between January and March 2022, marking a 400% improve in contrast with the identical interval in 2021. Twenty African international locations reported measles outbreaks within the first quarter of this yr, eight greater than that within the first three months of 2021,” the WHO mentioned.

The sudden rise in measles and different vaccine-preventable ailments is essentially blamed on disruptions by Covid-19, which resulted in big strains on well being system capacities in lots of African international locations.

Two doses of the measles vaccine supplied on schedule ends in long-lasting safety in opposition to the possibly lethal illness, the WHO mentioned, urging extra African international locations to scale up measles vaccination programmes.

“WHO and companions are supporting African international locations to hold out catch-up routine vaccination campaigns,” the organisation mentioned.

Final week, Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, instructed journalists that vaccines have been on the coronary heart of profitable public well being response – and, as international locations restore companies, routine immunisation have to be on the core of revived and resilient well being methods.


The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Basis. The tales produced by way of the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that could be contained herein don’t replicate these of the Hanns Seidel Basis.

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