Measles, a silent killer in parts of Africa

While international attention is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, measles continues to kill large numbers of people, mostly children, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)Central African Republic (CAR), and Chad. The world’s largest measles outbreak is still spreading across DRC—which is also fighting an Ebola epidemic. Since the outbreak was first declared in DRC in June 2019, there have been more than 332,000 cases of measles across the country. Chad’s measles outbreak has been raging for two years, since May 2018. CAR declared its measles outbreak in January 2020.

Together, these measles outbreaks have infected hundreds of thousands of children and killed thousands more. Some children die at home, never having reached proper medical care, or having been seen only by a traditional healer.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) MSF teams have been responding to the measles epidemic in all three countries—providing outbreak response vaccination, and treating children for the disease and for other illnesses such as malnutrition. These efforts continue despite logistical and security challenges, even while the COVID-19 pandemic looms as a potential threat and distraction for governments, donors, and other health organizations.

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