A raging measles outbreak endangering the lives of children in Sudan threatens to get out of control, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the country.
Dr Naeema Hassan El Gaseer of the WHO was quoted in several media on Thursday as saying that the outbreak is unprecedented in the country. The number of measles cases has reached 3,000, most of them being children under five years of age.
She said the outbreak seemed to have worsened at the end of July and warned that at least 16 million children in Sudan are in need of vaccination to head off the spreading disease.
“By the end of July, the number of measles cases in the country had reached 2786 and this number is on the rise every day,” she added.
El Gaseer noted that the UN in coordination with the Sudanese Ministry of Health has vaccinated millions of children in the past.
Near the end of June, the Ministry, with the support from Unicef and the WHO, has vaccinated a total of 6.3 million of the targeted children, about 79 percent. This number represents an estimated 38 percent of the 16.5 million children of the same age group in the country.
“We are extremely concerned because it has reached the level of an emergency and we are working with the government of Sudan and the other partners to combat the disease,” El Gaseer pointed out.
The WHO representative said other UN agencies have deployed teams to monitor the situation daily, adding that the most affected areas are Kassala, Gedaref in eastern Sudan and Sennar in the centre of the country.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed the deaths of 43 people who had been infected with measles at the end of July. There were nearly 3,000 confirmed cases at that time.