Africa is seeing a surge in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, polio and yellow fever, pointing to the impact of disrupted vaccination routines caused by Covid-19.
Tens of millions of people have missed routine immunization services, according to the World Health Organization , putting people at risk and creating an environment for deadly diseases to thrive and spread.
WHO Director for Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases Benido Impouma said the continent reported between January and March 2022 nearly 17,500 measles cases – a 400 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.
Mr Impouma said 20 African countries had reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year. eight more than in the first three months of 2021.
“Outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases have become more frequent. Twenty-four countries confirmed outbreaks of a polio variant in 2021, four more than in 2020. In 2021, 13 countries reported new yellow fever outbreaks in Africa, compared with nine in 2020 and three in 2019,” said Mr. Impouma /p>< h3>Revival and Resilience
Speaking at a virtual WHO press conference attended by Dr. Kailash Jagutpal, Minister of Health and Wellness of Mauritius; Prof. Helen Rees from the University of Witwatersrand; dr Thierno Balde, WHO Regional Manager for COVID-19 Incidents; and dr Messeret Shibeshi, the Vaccination Officer.
“As Africa works hard to defeat Covid-19, we must not forget other health threats. Health systems could be under severe strain not only from Covid-19 but also from other diseases,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.
“Vaccines are at the heart of a successful public health response, and as countries restore services, routine vaccination must be at the heart of revived and resilient health systems.”
Two doses of measles vaccine, provided as planned, can provide long-lasting protection against the potentially fatal disease.
Countries are expected to achieve 95% measles immunization coverage with two doses of vaccine and maintained to eliminate measles.
WHO and its partners are supporting African countries in implementing routine catch-up vaccination campaigns.