News: WHO reports alarming rise of measles outbreak in Ethiopia, 182 deaths since 2021

Measles Vaccination campaign in Haik town, Amhara region December 2020 (Photo:UNICEF Ethiopia)

Addis Abeba – The World Health Organization (WHO) says despite measles being endemic in Ethiopia, with cases reported every year, 16,814 laboratory-confirmed measles cases and 182 deaths have been reported nationally between 12 August 2021 and 01 May 2023.

According to a report published by the WHO on 04 May, the annual number of confirmed measles cases has “increased significantly”, from 1,953 in 2021 to 9291 (which is an increase by more than 375%) in 2022 and 6933 in 2023 (only between January and 01 May).

Currently, there are active measles outbreaks reported in 44 woredas/districts from eight regions: Afar, Amhara, Harari, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), South West Ethiopia Peoples’ Region (SWEPR), Tigray and Somali, the report stated, with the number of measles-affected woredas increasing from 52 in 2021 to 125 in 2022.

WHO attributes the rising cases of confirmed measles cases to low population immunity, combined with concurrent epidemics, conflict, forced displacement, and other humanitarian crises that disrupt childhood vaccinations.

The report indicates that only 36% amongst the confirmed measles cases, have received one dose or more of the measles-containing vaccine (MCV), putting the estimated immunization coverage of the first and second doses of the vaccine (MCV1 and MCV2) in 2021 at 54% and 46% respectively.

Several challenges such as conflict, population movement, and an insufficient stock of vaccines at the national level that Ethiopia is facing in its efforts to increase national childhood vaccination coverage are expected to fuel outbreaks and increase the number of cases, according to the report.

The global health body said the overall risk at the national level is assessed as high due to among other factors; weak surveillance systems, poor health awareness in the affected community, difficulty accessing and delivering supplies due to the poor road network and insecurity in western parts of Oromia, Benishangul Gumuz, Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health system.

On 25 April the UN said that a measles outbreak has killed 18 in 149 kebeles in the Oromia region with 1,274 documented cases, the figure showing a fatality rate of 1.4 percent. 

Ethiopia is currently battling an outbreak of Cholera in East Bale, Guji and Borena zones of Oromia and Dawa Zone of Somali regions which has resulted in the deaths so far of 50 people with 2,276 total cholera cases registered as of 23 March, according to the latest UN report. AS

Post Tags
No comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.