YAOUNDE, Cameroon

Two successful vaccination campaigns have helped curb a measles outbreak in the Central African Republic (CAR), the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

In a weekly update, WHO Africa commended the war-ravaged country’s measles response “particularly in the context of COVID-19 and continuing insecurity.”

A total of 2.6 million children were immunized in the vaccination campaigns, with particular emphasis on children aged between six and 59 months, according to the statement.

However, it stressed that there “is no room for complacency” as children have been given one dose so far and “experience elsewhere suggests that two doses are needed for full immunity.”

The global body said “momentum needs to be maintained for vaccine programmes for all vaccine preventable diseases to ensure no further outbreaks.”

With the measles outbreak having claimed at least 137 lives since last year, WHO urged CAR authorities to continue immunization campaigns for vaccine preventable diseases.

It said the country must reinforce mechanisms to ensure that targeted populations are reached and further outbreaks prevented.

Outbreaks of measles, still common in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia, can be especially deadly in countries experiencing or recovering from a natural disaster or conflict.

Damage to health infrastructure and health services interrupts routine immunization, and overcrowding in residential camps greatly increases the risk of infection, according to the WHO.

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