Healthcare

Hundreds of children die in Madagascar’s measles outbreak

Nearly 1,000 people, mainly children, have died in Madagascar since October, as the impoverished nation struggles to contain its worst measles outbreak in decades amid a desperate shortage of vaccines. Megan Revell reports.

FORT DAUPHIN AND ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR (Reuters) – These three siblings in Madagascar are all united by grief.

Each lost a child this January after the impoverished nation suffered its worst measles outbreak in decades.

That came amid a desperate shortage of vaccines.

Nearly 1,000 people have died since October – most of them children.

PELA MANTY, DADA’S SISTER WHO ALSO LOST TWO CHILDREN TO MEASLES,

“They are gone and it was all God’s will, but we didn’t expect the fact that they were not vaccinated would kill them.”

Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus and can cause blindness and brain swelling.

Many parents here trudge miles searching for shots but there are not enough to go around and many are too poor to afford them.

DADA, FISHERMAN AND FATHER WHO LOST A CHILD TO MEASLES,

“My child had been vaccinated and received the first injection, but he died because we didn’t have the means to go and get him the second injection.”

It’s not just Madagascar that’s struggling to contain the virus.

Cases are at a record high in Europe and spreading in the United States.

But there parents are refusing vaccinations over a long-debunked link to autism.

The World Health Organization has named vaccine avoidance as one of the top ten global health threats.

That’s not the problem in Madagascar; the island’s last big vaccination drive was in 2004.

Health workers have to battle against funding shortages, plus arduous and expensive logistics.

UNICEF DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE IN MADAGASCAR, JEAN-BENOIT MANHES,

“Neither you, me, or the international community can afford to mobilize 8.5 million doses every year. So there will need to be a solid system in place, one that can be conducted routinely, that can allow every Malagasy child to be vaccinated against measles at least twice a year.”


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  • Megan Revell
  • Medical specialties
  • Medicine
  • Infectious diseases
  • RTT
  • Vaccination
  • Measles
  • Pediatrics
  • Vaccine
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