DRC launches 1m person yellow fever vaccination campaign

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Democratic Republic of Congo launches campaign to vaccinate about 1m people against yellow fever over the next 10 days in the capital Kinshasa and a nearby province.

Reuters Africa reports that a wider campaign to vaccinate more than 10m people in the city and along the border with Angola will have to wait at least two more weeks, however, due to shortages of vaccine and syringes.

Congo’s health minister declared a yellow fever epidemic last month after the haemorrhagic virus spread from Angola, where 350 people have died since last December in the worst outbreak in decades.

Congo had registered 1,798 suspected cases of yellow fever as of 11 July, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), including 85 deaths believed caused by the disease. Only 68 cases have been laboratory confirmed however, due to a technical problem over the last three weeks that hindered the shipping of a chemical used in testing.

The vaccination drive is the second this year after more than 2m people were vaccinated in Kinshasa and Kongo Central province in late May. Health officials have also expressed concerns about beginning with such a targeted approach in Kinshasa, a chaotic megacity of some 12m people.

The report says during the last vaccination drive in May, people arrived from outside targeted areas, preventing some local residents from being vaccinated and provoking violence outside some health centres. Eugene Kabambi, a WHO spokesman in Kinshasa, said authorities were using community leaders and street campaigners with megaphones to promote the current drive. “We’ve avoided a strong publicity campaign. We’ve focused on word of mouth communication,” he said.

Full Reuters Africa report

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