As the yellow fever outbreak in Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo continues, the World Health Organization will launch emergency pre-emptive vaccination campaigns on the DR Congo, Angola border and the city of Kinshasa in the DR Congo to halt the epidemic and prevent the risk of further international spread.
The initial phase of the campaign which begins in July will focus on districts where there is high movement of people and intense trade activities, particularly the northern border districts of Angola and targeted border districts in neighbouring countries. Specifically, within a 75-100km belt spanning the border between Angola and DR Congo and targeted health zones/communes at risk in Kinshasa city in the DR Congo. This will create an immune buffer to prevent further international spread.
Important gains in preventive vaccination campaigns have been achieved. So far more than 15 million doses of vaccine have been delivered to Angola and DR Congo. However, the urgent need to accelerate vaccination campaigns and the lack of sufficient funds for field operational activities, remain a challenge in Angola and DR Congo.
“While WHO is working with partners and vaccine manufacturers to increase vaccine production and replenish the emergency stockpile currently being used for this outbreak, it is vital to interrupt transmission, especially in cross-border areas to rapidly bring this outbreak under control and halt further international spread,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa.
Angola and DR Congo are being supported by WHO and partners to strengthen yellow fever screening for evidence at all major points of entry including – Luanda, Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Matadi. Yellow fever vaccination is being offered at these points of entry for eligible travelers.
“WHO will continue to work with partners to scale up the required human resources, financial and other logistics so that response teams are present in every province of Angola where cases have been reported or where there is high risk. WHO will also continue its resource mobilization efforts as more resources are needed to address the operational challenges in Angola. In addition, to this a multidisciplinary team of experts will next week begin an evaluation of the response efforts in Angola and DR Congo and address any gaps.” the Regional Director added.
As of 13 June 2016, three countries – China, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – had reported cases linked to the Angola outbreak. An alert issued by the Republic of Congo is under investigation by a joint Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF team. Two suspected cases of yellow fever earlier reported in Sao Tome and Principe were investigated and have been ruled out. Another outbreak of yellow fever reported in Uganda and not linked to the Angola outbreak has been controlled.
As of 19 June 2016, 1106 suspected cases, including 75 deaths, had been reported in the country in five provinces (Bas-Uélé, Kwango, Tshuapa, Kongo Central and Kinshasa). At least 7 cases are confirmed as locally transmitted. WHO has dispatched multidisciplinary teams to Kongo Central, Kwango and Kinshasa provinces and is supporting the country with active case investigations, reactive vaccination and social mobilization activities.
NOTE TO THE EDITORS:
In light of the increasing concern over the current outbreak, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan, convened an Emergency Committee meeting on 19 May 2016. The Committee concluded that the urban outbreak of yellow fever in Angola and its national and international spread to China, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya does not, at this time, constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) but is a serious public health event which warrants intensified national action with international support.
WHO is the Secretariat for the International Coordinating Group for Yellow Fever Vaccine Provision (ICG). The ICG maintains an emergency stockpile of yellow fever vaccines to ensure rapid response to outbreaks in high-risk countries. WHO works with its partners in the ICG to control the stockpile of yellow fever vaccines and to manage global supply of the vaccine. The ICG approves and facilitates the dispatch of vaccine to countries in need of emergency response.
The Yellow Fever Initiative is financially supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI Alliance), the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), ministries of health, and partners in countries.
For more information on yellow fever, please click on http://www.who.int/emergencies/yellow-fever/en/
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).