Madagascan authorities have been urging the public to be vaccinated against measles, which has been plaguing the country since September 2018, according to the local media.
The third phase of the national measles vaccination campaign ended on April 5, and local media reported an effective outcome. Boanamary town of the district of Mahajanga II, one of the most affected areas of the ongoing epidemic, has seen a vaccination rate of 89.7 percent, according to media reports.
The vaccination campaign mainly targeted children aged six months to nine years in all 22 regions of Madagascar. A report of Madagascan health authorities published on Tuesday recorded 121,521 measles cases in the country from Sept. 3, 2018 to March 27, 2019.
The outbreak was largely due to a low vaccination rate, as some parents refused to immunize their children because of certain local religious customs, Xinhua (via Madagascar Express) noted. Media also cited malnutrition as one of the factors that could have worsened the situation.
Just 58 per cent of people on Madagascar's main island have been vaccinated against measles, a major factor in the outbreak's spread. With measles one of the most infectious diseases, immunization rates need to be 90 to 95 per cent or higher to prevent outbreaks. Even some cases of resistance to vaccinations exist because of the influence of religion or of traditional health practitioners but they are isolated ones, he said. This epidemic is complicated by the fact that nearly 50 per cent of children in Madagascar is malnourished.
If the disease is not treated early enough, complications appear including diarrhoea, bronchitis, pneumonia and convulsions. Madagascar's health ministry has sent free medications to regions most affected by the epidemic. Dr Boniface Maronko, sent by WHO, reminded heads of health centers in the Ambalavao region not to make parents pay, saying he had seen some doctors asking for money.