Measles cases jump 400% – 20 countries in Africa reported outbreaks

Measles cases jump 400% – 20 countries in Africa reported outbreaks

Twenty African countries have reported outbreaks of measles in the first quarter of 2022. This means that in 2022, eight more countries have reported measles outbreaks than in the first three months of last year.

Between January and March, the continent recorded almost 17 500 measles cases, according to the WHO. On Wednesday, 27 April, the WHO and the United Nation’s children’s agency UNICEF in Geneva announced that measles cases rose by almost 80% worldwide in 2022.

UNICEF warned that the rise of the highly contagious virus indicates that outbreaks of other diseases could possibly be on the way. The WHO revealed that most of the measles outbreaks were recorded in the eastern Mediterranean and Africa.

Africa is facing outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable illnesses

The WHO’s Africa regional bureau revealed that outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable illnesses have become more common in the continent. Around 24 African nations confirmed, in 2021, epidemics due to a variant of polio. This is four more than what was reported in 2020.

Thirteen African countries had epidemics of yellow fever in 2021. This rose by nine in 2020. The WHO shared that the inequalities in accessing vaccines, a huge strain on health system capacities and disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic hindered routine immunisations.

It added that many African countries were forced to suspend vaccination drives.

“The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases is a warning sign. As Africa works hard to defeat COVID-19, we must not forget other health threats,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti.

EWN reports that measles more commonly attacks children. Some of the more serious complications faced include brain swelling, blindness, diarrhoea and severe respiratory infections.