Global Health Press
Cholera and measles kill hundreds, while polio reappears in Congo

Cholera and measles kill hundreds, while polio reappears in Congo

Cholera and measles kill hundreds, while polio reappears in Congo
Cholera and measles kill hundreds, while polio reappears in Congo

Outbreaks of measles and cholera in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo have killed hundreds of people, with thousands more infected, says an official of the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

“Since September 2010, 115,484 measles cases and 1,145 related deaths have been reported in South Kivu, Katanga, Maniema, Kasaï Occidental, Equateur, Bas Congo and Kasaï Oriental provinces,” Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO media and advocacy officer. According to Jasarevic, a lack of government funding halted follow-up mass immunization activities in the regions, leading to the measles outbreak.

Close to six million children were vaccinated in the most affected areas in April and May, but the epidemic spread to other provinces not covered in the immunization campaign. Mass immunization campaigns are planned. At least 915,000 children in nine provinces are targeted for vaccination in the first two campaigns scheduled for July.

WHO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are seeking an additional US$9 million to carry out these two campaigns in September and the first semester of 2012.


Some 1,449 cholera cases and 74 deaths have also been recorded since March in Kisangani, Orientale, with the outbreak spreading along the Congo River to Bandundu and Equateur provinces and to Kinshasa, the capital, Jasarevic said. As of 8 July, 3,245 cholera cases had been reported with 192 deaths.

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) is supporting the DRC Red Cross in hygiene promotion activities in the affected provinces, according to a 13 July report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The health ministry and partners are also setting up water chlorination points and providing free cholera treatment to contain the outbreak, said Jasarevic.


The DRC is also grappling with new cases of the wild polio virus, with a total of 62 cases recorded by 7 July, according to Victor Makwenge Kaput, the Minister of Public Health.

“The consolidated figures of the last Local Immunization Days against Polio, organized in June 2011, clearly demonstrate the commitment of all stakeholders to eradicate this disease and many other from Congolese soil. Vaccination is an act of love and a vaccination coverage rate of 106 percent shows that this is gradually understood by parents and health workers, “said Dr. Makwenge Kaput. The registration of new cases of the wild poliovirus “also illustrates that the fight to eradicate is far from being over,” he added.

“Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against polio and to consolidate this protection, vaccination must be repeated several times” said Dr. Léodégal Bazira, Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the DRC.

Sources: IRIN/ReliefWeb