NEW YORK/KINSHASA, DRC, August 16, 2019–A measles epidemic officially declared on June 10 in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has killed 2,758 people and infected 145,000 in the deadliest outbreak the country has witnessed since 2011.
Despite the scale of the epidemic, there is an alarming lack of actors and funds to respond to this crisis: $2.5 million of the $8.9 million required for the Health Cluster response plan has been raised. In contrast, the Ebola epidemic in the east of the country has elicited a response from multiple organizations and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.
“Two months after the official declaration and [a] few weeks before the start of the school year, the measles epidemic shows no signs of slowing down,” said Karel Janssens, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) head of mission in DRC. “If we want to contain the outbreak, it is imperative to strengthen the response, and to do it immediately. A rapid and adapted response is critical to limiting the impact of measles on the communities, but on the ground we note the absence of actors and a flagrant lack of much-needed assistance.”
The epidemic has actually worsened since July, with a rise in new cases reported in several provinces, Janssens said.
Unless there is a massive mobilization of funds and response organizations, this outbreak could become even deadlier.
Since the beginning of the year, MSF teams in DRC have vaccinated 474,863 children and provided medical care for 27,439 patients by working alongside local teams of the Ministry of health in 13 provinces around the country.