Vaccine-preventable diseases on the rise in Africa due to COVID-19 disruptions

The World Health Organization has warned that vaccine-preventable diseases are spreading across the African continent as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts routine vaccination against deadly diseases.

Millions of people have been deprived of routine immunization services. This not only puts their lives at risk from potentially fatal diseases but also creates an environment in which killer diseases can flourish and spread.

Benido Ipouma, director of communicable and non-communicable diseases at the World Health Organization’s regional office for Africa, said the pandemic has put enormous strain on health systems. This has affected routine immunization services in many African countries and forced the suspension of vaccination campaigns.

Over the past year, he said, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases have increased across the continent.

“For example, between January and March this year, about 17,000 cases of measles were reported. This is a 400 percent increase compared to the same period last year,” Ipouma said. “Twenty-four countries in our region confirmed outbreaks of polio last year, four times as many as in 2020.”

FILE - A community health worker gets polio vaccine during a polio vaccination campaign in Kiamako, Nairobi, Kenya July 19, 2021.

FILE – A community health worker gets polio vaccine during a polio vaccination campaign in Kiamako, Nairobi, Kenya July 19, 2021.

He said outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as yellow fever, are also increasing.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF recently issued a report warning of the increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. They attribute this in large part to growing inequalities in access to vaccines due to pandemic-related disruptions.

He expressed particular concern about the worldwide spurt in measles cases, which increased by 79 percent in the first two months of this year. He noted that most cases were reported in Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.

WHO is working to improve vaccination coverage and protection for children, Ipouma said, adding that the WHO and its partners are supporting African countries to conduct catch-up routine vaccination campaigns.

“More than 30 African countries implemented at least one routine catch-up vaccination campaign in the second half of last year,” he said. “And this year, countries are showing progress, restarting measles and yellow fever campaigns. The Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan have resumed measles campaigns, which is good news. is.”

However, the COVID-19 news is not as promising. The WHO said this week that new COVID-19 cases and deaths on the continent increased for the first time after more than a two-month decline and a one-month decline for deaths.

The latest recorded figures put the number of cases at 11.6 million, including around 253,000 deaths.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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