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Measles: Africa suffers a 400% increase in cases since the beginning of the year


The African continent is particularly affected by the explosion of measles cases. The WHO Africa office announces a 400% increase for the first three months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

From January to March, nearly 17,500 cases of this highly contagious viral disease were recorded on the continent, where twenty countries reported outbreaks of measles, eight more than in the first three months of the previous year.

On Wednesday, the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced in Geneva that reported cases of measles had jumped 79% worldwide during the first two months of the year, compared with the same period last year. These two UN organizations warn of a situation that “endangers children”, and an outbreak of cases which could “affect millions of children” around the world even if “most of the epidemics have been reported in Africa and in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” they point out.

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Other vaccine-preventable diseases are on the rise

According to WHO Africa, other vaccine-preventable diseases are also on the rise. Twenty-four African countries confirmed outbreaks of a polio variant in 2021, four more than in 2020. Thirteen reported outbreaks of yellow fever, up from nine in 2020 and three in 2019.

Its epidemic waves of diseases usually “under control” such as measles, polio or tetanus are explained in particular by the submergence of health services due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has “disrupted routine immunization services in many African countries and forced the suspension of vaccination campaigns”, explains WHO-Africa. The African continent is fighting against Covid-19 “but we must not forget the other threats to health”, underlined during an online briefing Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Africa director of the WHO, quoted in the press release.

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