UNOCHA East and Southern Africa representative Pete Manfield. Photo credit/youtube.com

The Eastern and Southern Africa region has been impacted by simultaneous disease outbreaks, including yellow fever, cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD), measles, and chikungunya. On top of this, spikes in malaria cases are reported in Burundi, South Sudan and eastern DRC.

Of all the outbreaks, AWD and cholera are of biggest concern, and there are over 60,000 suspected cases in the region to date, with active transmission ongoing in Kenya, Tanzania, DRC, Zambia, Ethiopia and Somalia. And Yellow Fever also continues to be a continental threat, with Angola facing the largest outbreak in recent history with 3,552 suspected cases by May 30. In DRC, the Government declared an epidemic in three provinces with 1,339 suspected cases.

To contain the Yellow Fever outbreak, over 18 million vaccines have been delivered to date in Angola and DRC. A follow-up vaccination campaign targeting 6-7 million people on the border of Angola and DRC with full doses and 10 million people in Kinshasa with 1/5 doses is planned.

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‘Although significant gains were made, vaccination campaigns need to be accelerated in places with high density or movement of people. Lack of funding and delays in the deployment of Portuguese speaking staff are hindering the scaling-up of the response. WHO has also warned that the global stockpile of vaccines may not be sufficient if simultaneous outbreaks hit densely populated areas,’ an August 15 release by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), in East and Southern Africa signed off by Pete Manfield, states in part.

Meanwhile, the Somali cluster is facing concurrent Chikungunya, Dengue Cholera/AWD and Measles outbreaks. The impact of these diseases is compounded by high multi-dimensional poverty, food insecurity and high malnutrition levels, displacement, conflict, lack of clean drinking water and weak social services.

The governments, together with humanitarian partners, have been able to significantly reduce the number of cases of Chikungunya and Cholera in recent weeks, with cases in Mandera decreasing from 70 to two and 129 to zero Chikungunya cases.