Liberia, Chad Top Measles Deaths

A measles vaccination.
29 March 2016
The NEWS (Monrovia)

A measles statistics on countries in Central and West Africa has placed Liberia and Chad on top of the epidemic deaths toll.

Spread through coughing or sneezing, measles is among the world's most contagious diseases and one of the leading causes of death among children worldwide, especially those who are malnourished, a collaborative work prepared by World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF) said.

According to UNICEF, WCARO-Media Centre website on Measles outbreak, Liberia and Chad have recorded the highest number of deaths in countries affected by the epidemic as of March 28, 2016.

UNICEF is the arm of the United Nations that addresses issues affecting children worldwide.

Liberia is currently fighting the latest outbreak of measles, few months after the country was declared free of the Ebola Virus Disease (EDV), which killed more than 11, 000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; the three countries believed to be the hardest hit Ebola nations.

Recently, the Liberian government announced that ten out of the country's 15 counties were experiencing measles outbreak, warning that the disease could affect more children in the coming weeks.

Deputy Health Minister and Head of the Incident Management System, Tolbert Nyenswah, is on record of saying the measles outbreak is as a result of the gaps created by the deadly Ebola Virus which paralyzed the entire health system.

He explained that during the period when Liberia was battling against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) children were not immunized against measles.

According to the statistics, other affected countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, DR Congo and Guinea. Others are Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The statistics revealed that Liberia has recorded 1,341 cases with 34 deaths, while Chad has recorded 5,832 cases with 79 deaths.

The two countries are followed by Nigeria, which has recorded 3,804 cases with 26 deaths.

The statistic said the countries affected as of 28 March are Benin (85 cases, 0 deaths), Burkina Faso (1,258 cases, 10 deaths), Central African Republic (31 cases, 0 deaths) Côte d'Ivoire (491 cases, 3 deaths) and Cameroon (1,338 cases, 6 deaths).

DR Congo is named in the statistics as recording (3,976 cases, 13 deaths), Guinea (1,013 cases, 2 deaths), Mauritania (863 cases, 9 deaths) and Mali (774 cases, 1 death).

Niger has so far recorded (352 cases, 1 death), Senegal (560 cases, 0 deaths), Sierra Leone (351 cases, 1 deaths) and Togo (295 cases, 0 deaths) according to the stastitics

Between 2000 and 2008, global measles mortality in all ages was reduced by 78%, from an estimated 733,000 deaths in 2000 to an estimated 164,000 deaths in 2008.

But according to the Measles Initiative, a partnership funded in 2001 was led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization which helped to reduce mortality.

According to a WHO report, an estimated 400 children died from measles every day in developing countries and other parts of the world. It indicated that even healthy and well-nourished children (in developed countries), if unvaccinated, are at risk of the disease; and its severe health complications include pneumonia, diarrhoea, and encephalitis (a dangerous infection of the brain causing inflammation).

Deputy Minister Nyenswah said the issue of measles affecting children in Liberia in ten out of fifteen counties is becoming increasingly serious; noting that government is launching the Integrated Measles, Polio and Deworming Campaign in an effort to tackle the disease.

He's calling on parents to bring their children under the age of five for vaccination to avert what he calls a "pending health crisis".

He wants at least 98% of children immunized fully in order to protect the 2% who are not immunized.

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