Massive Virus Outbreak Threatens Africa

“[People] never thought it would come back. ” – Ugandan pediatrician |

Oct 20, 2019 | 

L. A. Times, KAMPALA, Uganda — Diana Nalubwama had noticed a lot of children in her neighborhood in Wakiso, a town on the outskirts of the capital, Kampala, had suddenly been coming down with measles, a disease that was rarely seen in Uganda in recent years.

But her 15-month-old daughter had been vaccinated, so she wasn’t expecting her to catch it, let alone end up severely ill and in an isolation ward in Mulago Hospital, Uganda’s largest public hospital.

Sitting on the floor next to a metal crib while her daughter slept, Nalubwama, 28, said:

“There are many, many people who don’t immunize. People [who refuse immunization] think the injections are given to weaken their children. I immunized my kids and I’m here, while those who didn’t are at home. It’s frustrating.”

Nalubwana isn’t the only one who is frustrated. Uganda has been grappling with an alarming spate of measles cases, even though there’s plenty of the vaccine to go around, health officials say. African Monkeypox Escapes Nigeria

Even some children who received vaccinations, like her daughter, have been getting sick. Since January 2018, Uganda has confirmed more than 3,440 measles cases and nine measles-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Measles is having a deadly resurgence across Africa, where, as of September, about 44% of this year’s cases worldwide have been recorded.

That’s due in large part to a massive outbreak in the island nation of Madagascar off the coast of Mozambique, where more than 150,000 cases have been reported and more than 1,000 people have died due to low vaccination rates and a vaccine shortage once the outbreak took hold.

In Uganda, vaccination rates are higher, but thinly stretched health budgets, mistrust of vaccines and complacency among people who think measles is a disease of the past have helped lead to the outbreaks.

“For the last 15, 20 years, medical students had never even seen measles,” said Dr. Edison Arwanire Mworozi, a pediatrician at Mulago who sits on the government’s immunization steering committee. Read more. 

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