With a yellow fever epidemic underway in neighboring Democratic
Republic of Congo, public health authorities have been scrambling to
keep the disease from gaining a foothold in Angola.
Yellow fever, a mosquito-borne haemorrhagic virus, results in death
rates as high as 75 percent in serious cases but its transmission
can be prevented with a vaccine.
Yellow fever has killed 356 people in Angola and infected more than
3,400 infected since late last year, according to World Health
Organization (WHO) and Angolan government figures that IFRC cited.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which shares a frontier
to the northeast of Angola, suspected cases numbered about 1,307 and
deaths 75 as of late June, according to the WHO. Congolese
authorities declared a yellow fever epidemic in the capital and two
provinces last month.[nNRA25fc4u]
The WHO said in late June it was scaling up its efforts to combat
the outbreak with the launch of an emergency vaccination campaign in
July along the border between Angola and DRC, as well as in the
Congolese capital Kinshasa.[nL8N19F1J5]
But efforts to vaccinate the two countries' populations have been
hampered by logistical challenges, including a shortage of yellow
In Angola, suspicion about the effectiveness of vaccines over
traditional medicines was another hurdle, IFRC spokeswoman Camelia
Marinescu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the
country's capital city Luanda.
"People take traditional plant-based medication which, when it comes
to yellow fever, do more harm than good," Marinescu said.
"Consequences ... can be lethal."
In an effort to dispel myths, IFRC staff and volunteers have been
helping the Angola Red Cross with door-to-door visits and targeting
the southern African country's media to raise awareness about the
disease, the IFRC said.
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"The message of our community mobilizers (is to) quickly go to the
closest health center or hospital," Marinescu said.
More than 11 million yellow fever vaccines have been administered in
Angola between Dec. 5, 2015 and July 5, 2016, she said.
Even so, suspected cases of yellow fever have been reported in
Angola's 18 provinces, the IFRC said as it launched an appeal for
1.4 million Swiss franc ($1.4 million) appeal to fund its work to
help stem the outbreak in the country.
($1 = 0.9755 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson
Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking,
property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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