Health - Madagascar Measles Kills 1,200
The largest measles outbreak in Madagascar's history as killed more than 1,200 people. And while low vaccination rates are a major problem, it's not because people in the impoverished nation don't want them.
The outbreak began last September and has killed mostly children under 15 years of age, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO). By mid-March, the measles had all regions of the country and infected 117,075.
"The epidemic unfortunately continues to expand in size," said WHO epidemiologist Dr. Dossou Vincent Sodjinou. "But immunization is not the only strategy for the response to this epidemic. We still need resources for care, monitoring and social mobilization."
Measles is one of the most infectious of diseases. For herd immunity to kick in, immunization rates have to be 90 to 95 percent. Madagascar parents want their kids vaccinated, but money is tight and resources are stretched; just 58 percent percent of people on Madagascar's main island have been vaccinated. WHO recently sought to fix this and began a program to vaccinate 7.2 million children aged six months to nine years.
Beyond that, health workers are left to treat the disease which can cause complications such as diarrhea, bronchitis, pneumonia, and convulsions.
"Vitamin A is given to children to increase their immunity. We try to reduce the fever. If there is a cough, we give antibiotics," said WHO Dr. Boniface Maronko.