Mass measles vaccination campaign begins in Ebola-hit DR Congo province
Health workers have started a massive measles vaccination campaign in north-east Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a region that’s in the grip of the second deadliest Ebola virus outbreak on record.
UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Thursday that it aims to inoculate 67,000 children in Ituri province.
They’re just a small fraction of the 400,000 people displaced by an upsurge in communal violence and clashes between Government forces and non-State armed groups in the resource-rich area.
According to UNICEF, nearly 2,000 people have died from measles across DRC so far this year, more than two-thirds of them children under five.
Tackling the measles outbreak is complicated by the fact that its symptoms – fever, redness around the eyes and diarrhoea – are similar to those displayed by Ebola patients.
Here’s UNICEF Health Specialist, Jerome Pfaffman, speaking from DRC:
“So, Of course Ebola is making everything more complex and I think that's the purpose of putting all of these additional measures in place, but I would not underestimate the knowledge of the communities that starts to be more and more cognition and understand what is the complexity of Ebola. Measles is a disease that they are very well aware of, and they were looking for and asking for the measles campaign. So, we have very good responses from the mothers bringing their children for this campaign."
To date, the latest Ebola outbreak affecting Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province has killed 1,646 people since it began last August, while 683 people have recovered.
Latest health data from DRC point to around 115,000 cases of suspected measles in the country, far more than the 65,000 tally last year.
UN agency describes refugees’ ‘misery’ in Bangladesh as monsoon rains continue
Heavy monsoon rains continue to batter refugees in southern Bangladesh where UN aid teams on Thursday reported six landslides in just 24 hours and more people forced to leave their damaged shelters.
Seven days after heavy monsoon rains and winds began lashing camps in Cox’s Bazar, the International Organization for Migration said that about 1,000 people had been affected by severe weather in the past 24 hours, causing “misery” for already vulnerable communities.
Teams are working day and night to provide emergency services to those affected, IOM reported, while also warning about worsening damage to paths, bridges and drainage systems.
According to the agency, more than 45,000 people have been affected by monsoon damage so far this year, compared to 55,000 impacted during the whole of last year’s rainy season.
Countries and companies have a role in protecting freedom of expression, says rights expert
And finally, amid ongoing threats and violence against journalists, UN-appointed rights expert David Kaye has led calls for all countries “to create enabling environments” for freedom of expression, in both digital and traditional media.
In a joint declaration issued by global rights experts, Mr. Kaye, who’s the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, urged States to recognise people’s right to use the Internet as “an essential condition” for them to express their views.
At the same time, the experts’ joint declaration also urges private firms to respect these rights, while also calling for independent oversight, transparency and accountability.