More Than 150 Deaths from Measles in Afghanistan Last Month

In January alone, a measles epidemic in Afghanistan infected tens of thousands of people. More than 150 people, mostly children, also died from the disease last month. This was announced on Friday by the World Health Organization (WHO), which warned that the death toll could rise further.


“Measles cases have risen in all provinces since the end of July 2021,” said WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier. For example, in the week of January 24, the number of infections increased by 18 percent; a week later, the increase is even 40 percent.

A total of 35,319 suspected cases were identified last month, 91 percent of which involved children under the age of five. There were 156 deaths, of which 97 percent were in children under the age of five. However, the WHO fears that this is an underestimate. “In addition, the rapid increase in the number of cases in January suggests that the number of measles deaths will rise sharply in the coming weeks,” Lindmeier said.

The United Nations point out that many children in Afghanistan are extra vulnerable due to malnutrition. More than half of the country is at risk of famine.

The WHO says it is now fully committed to accelerating the vaccination campaign and increasing testing capacity. In December, 1.5 million children in the worst affected areas were vaccinated. The aim is to reach another 3 million children in May.

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