A mass vaccination campaign against measles has been launched in the Democratic Republic of Congo, local media reported on Monday.

The vaccination campaign for children aged zero and five started in the Beni health zone in North Kivu province, according to the UN Radio Okapi.

It said the campaign targets 25,000 children in Kasabinyole, Kanzulinzuli, Madrandele, Tuungane and Malepe health zones.

Administrative authorities, the chief medical officer of the area, health partners including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ebola response team took part in the launching event.

Measles outbreak in the Central African country has killed over 6,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

Since the start of 2019, around 310,000 suspected measles cases have been reported.

The epidemic has been aggravated by low vaccination coverage among vulnerable communities, malnutrition, weak public health system, outbreaks of other epidemic-prone diseases, difficult access by vulnerable populations to health care and insecurity that has hampered response in some areas, WHO said in a statement in January.

Althoguh there is an effective vaccine for measles, the disease is still one of the leading causes of death among young children. The vaccination resulted in 84% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2016 worldwide, according to Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by measles virus.

Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person.

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