Kinshasa — THE Democratic Republic of Congo has launched a vaccination campaign against yellow fever, a disease that kills up to 60 000 people in Africa annually.
The vaccination campaign targeting more than 16,3 million people is the first such drive against the disease in Africa in 2021.
It is being carried out in seven of the DRC's 26 provinces among people aged nine months to 60 years, including nearly 300 000 refugees.
The campaign has taken more than a year of planning and was partly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Tackling other health emergencies is now doubly difficult as countries are also working hard to contain the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organisation director for Africa.
"While yellow fever is a dangerous disease, it is easily preventable with one shot in the arm. This campaign illustrates that by adjusting to the new normal, working together and innovating we can avert other outbreaks and combat COVID-19."
Yellow fever is caused by a virus spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes.
Some patients can develop serious symptoms, including high fever and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
DRC has experienced six outbreaks erupting between 2010 and 2019.
A major outbreak in neighbouring Angola in 2016 spread into the DRC's capital Kinshasa and two other provinces.