The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) reported the resurgence of measles cases in Cameroon. "Since the beginning of the year, the number of confirmed cases is on the rise and reached about 2,000 in July 2022. Several deaths have also been recorded," the EPI posted on Facebook last week.
The program attributes this situation to the fact that children are not vaccinated or are under-vaccinated. The epidemiological update indicates that between September 2021 and September 2022, 72.3% of positive cases involved unvaccinated children.
Cameroon has taken adequate measures to deploy a new response campaign from 5 to 9 October. It will take place in 25 health districts in Adamaoua, the Central region, the Far North, Littoral, North, Northwest, West, and South. The country has also put in place an immunization strategy to reach zero-dose and under-vaccinated children. "First, we have developed a strategy to identify zero-dose children. Throughout the national territory, we have spotted the places where they are. We will now prioritize the areas that are zero-dose to provide financial support to the vaccination teams," explains Dr. Shalom Tchokfe Ndoula, permanent secretary of the EPI. The other strategy is to strengthen surveillance with community actors, we learn.
"Our approach will also help us identify under-vaccinated communities since measles outbreaks always originate in areas where children have not received the proper dose of vaccine. If we strengthen surveillance, we will increase the chances of quickly identifying under-vaccinated communities," adds Dr. Tchokfe Ndoula.
Measles is a serious viral infection in children. It is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.
The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours. It can be transmitted by an infected person from 4 days before the onset of the rash to 4 days after the rash erupts. It is complicated by infections such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, meningitis, and blindness, among others. The best prevention remains vaccination. Health authorities are therefore calling on parents to get their children between the ages of 6 months and 7 years vaccinated.
According to official EPI data, more than one million children were vaccinated against measles between June and December 2021.