Matshidiso Moeti – WHO Africa Director

By Victor Ernest With Agency Report

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the Democratic Republic of Congo’s worst yellow fever outbreak in decades has ended.

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The organisation stated this as no new cases have been reported in six months, just over a year after the outbreak began in December 2015 in a slum in Angola’s capital, Luanda, before spreading into neighbouring DRC.

The WHO’s Africa director Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement that the organisation has declared  an end to the  “largest and most challenging yellow fever outbreak in recent years.”

According to the director, the outbreak has caused 965 confirmed cases across the two countries, with thousands more cases suspected and under close monitoring.

“More than 400 people lost their lives as a result of the outbreak,” the director added.

Volunteers engaged

The organisation also stated that the epidemic prompted a campaign to vaccinate 30 million people in the two countries with more than 41,000 volunteers and 56 charities carrying out mass immunization programme.

“This unprecedented response exhausted the global stockpile of yellow fever vaccines several times,” the WHO said.

Drug shortages forced doctors to switch to administering one-fifth of the normal dose, a tactic that the WHO says gives at least temporary protection.

According to News Agency of Nigeria, the risk of such outbreaks globally has risen in recent years due to urbanisation and the increasing mobility of the population.

It was particularly acute in 2016 because of the El Nino weather phenomenon which multiplied mosquito numbers.