News: Twelve people die, hundreds affected by new cases of measles in Somali region; hundreds more affected in Oromia, SNNP regions: UN

vaccinating a child during Measles and EOS campaign Somali region Jigjiga city. Pictures: WHO/Archive 2017

Addis Abeba – The U.N. said measles cases continue to be reported since December 2021 in Doloado and Bokolmayo woredas of Liban Zone, in Somali Region, “with about 700 new cases and 12 deaths recorded as of 3 March.”

The news comes at a time when Somali region is already struggling with severe drought that left “more than three million people significantly impacted by the drought, including about 2.4 million people in need of immediate water support, according to the U.N. “Serious shortage of pasture and limited water availability for livestock continue to cause animal deaths, with more than 900,000 livestock (the main livelihood of thousands of people) reportedly perished in drought affected areas in the region to date.”

While the number of cases recorded has decreased since cases were diagnosed in December 2021, active cases remain. “Measles cases have been recorded in 15 kebeles, including five refugee camps in the zone,” the report said.

In response, the Regional Health Bureau and the World Health Organization are planning to carry out a measles vaccination campaign targeting children from six months to ten years of age in all woredas of Liban Zone and two neighboring woredas in Afder (Dolobay and Barey) by the second week of March. Active monitoring and surveillance are carried out in other locations in the region that have reported suspected cases.

Similarly, the report said as of 25 February, new cases reported in other regions reached 104 cases in Abaya, Borena zone in Oromia region, and 125 cases in Garda Marta, Gamo Zone in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) region.

In February 2020, measles outbreak that affected more than 12, 000 people were reported in 36 zones of 5 different regions in a span of 13 months beginning January 2019. “Oromia region bore the brunt of the outbreaks, with 67 per cent of cases, followed by Somali with 21 per cent,” U.N.’s report said at the time. At least five people died of the outbreak in east Wellega zone alone, whereas at least 30 people died in March of the same year in other parts of Oromia region.

Last week, residents of Guji, West Guji and Borana zones of Oromia regional state told Addis Standard that diarrhea outbreak was ravaging many households in several areas. However, local and regional health officials denied the scale was an outbreak, but admitted there was shortage of water purifying chemicals and medicines to filter the water were being delivered by water trucks, which is contributing to increased number of diarrhea cases but it has not reached the level an outbreak. AS

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