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Explained: The world's largest measles outbreak

13 Mar 20

Explained: The world's largest measles outbreak

While some viral diseases like COVID-19 and Ebola make headlines, most people don’t know that measles remains a leading killer of young children in many parts of the world.

Right now, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing the largest outbreak of measles in a decade.

In the past year alone, over 310,000 people have been infected and more than 6,000 people have died--the vast majority of them children.

We sat down with MSF experts Dr Northan Hurtado and Dr Matthew Coldiron to talk about why so many people are dying from measles when there is a safe and effective vaccine.

We also discussed some of the lesser-known science about measles, and what MSF is doing to stop the deadly epidemic still raging in DRC.

At MSF's out-patient department in Batil refugee camp Gandhi Pant, a nurse, escorts a patient with a possible appendicitis to a waiting ambulance. 

Batil is one of three camps in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State sheltering at least 113,000 refugees who have crossed the border from Blue Nile state to escape fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the SPLM-North armed group. Refugees arrive at the camp with harrowing stories of being bombed out of their homes, or having their villages burned. The camps into which they have poured are on a vast floodplain, leaving many tents flooded and refugees vulnerable to disease. Mortality rates in Batil camp are at emergency levels, malnutrition rates are more than five times above emergency thresholds, and diarrhea and malarial cases are rising.

Help us prepare for the next emergency