The world's worst epidemic
While the world focuses on the coronavirus outbreak, dozens of children are dying every day in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the world's worst epidemic: measles.
There is a little boy named Rodjens. He’s 17 months old, and he got measles during the world’s worst outbreak of the disease which has been ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo since the start of 2019. Although Rodjens was hospitalized in time, in this country in Central Africa, nearly 20 children die every day because of this epidemic.
Children are the most vulnerable
In measles treatment centers like this one in Matadi, NGOs are working to save the families affected by the epidemic, like Phemba and her two daughters. Since January 2019, according to the WHO, 310,000 people have been infected with measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 6,000 have died, 75% of which are children under the age of 5, who are the most vulnerable to the disease. Measles is an infectious disease, and one of the most contagious. It’s one of the leading causes of death in the world. Its symptoms include a high fever, a runny nose, a sore throat, conjunctivitis followed by a rash on the body and around the lips.
There is no cure for the disease, only symptomatic treatments
There is no specific treatment for measles, only symptomatic treatments. Most of the deaths are caused by complications of the disease, such as acute respiratory infections, dehydration, or diarrhea. When treated in time, patients recover in around 10 days after the first symptoms appear.
More resources are needed in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Today, vaccination is the only effective preventive measure against measles. In the DRC, ongoing conflict, lack of access to remote villages and inequality prevent many children in rural areas from being vaccinated every year. A global fundraising campaign allowed for the emergency vaccination of millions of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the WHO is calling for further resources to get the disease under control.