Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

In this Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 file photo, children wear face masks at a school in Antananarivo, Madagascar. With dozens dead from a plague outbreak, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cresent Societies said Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, that it is deploying its first-ever plague treatment center to the island nation. (AP Photo/Alexander Joe, File)
Health

Almost 1,000 Children Have Died of the Measles in Madagascar Since October


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The measles cause blindness and brain swelling. It can also make children more susceptible to life threatening diseases like pneumonia and diarrheal diseases. Since 2000, measles vaccines have helped to save over 20 million lives. You can help spread awareness about the importance of accessible vaccinations by taking action here.

Over the past five months, hundreds of children in Madagascar have died after from the measles, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Thursday.

“Madagascar started with a few cases; now, we are almost close to 60,000 and the cases are still increasing,” said Richard Mihigo, coordinator for the WHO's immunization and vaccine development program at its regional office for Africa.

Take Action: Encourage South Africans to Prioritise Child Health and #VaxTheNation

More than 922 children and young adults have died from the disease since October, Reuters reports. Children account for approximately 64% of the country’s measles cases, according to WHO.

The measles, also called rubeola, is a viral respiratory infection that can be deadly for small children, according to Mayo Clinic. It typically causes a skin rash and a fever and can lead to serious health conditions like blindness and brain swelling.

The disease can also make children more susceptible to other life-threatening illnesses like pneumonia. The vast majority of fatal measles cases occur in developing countries with high rates of poverty and poor health care systems.

With about 75% of its population living below the poverty line, Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. The country also has a poor, underfunded health care infrastructure and a low vaccination rate, both of which contribute to its high number of measles cases. Only 58% of Madagascar’s residents were vaccinated against the measles in 2017.

Read More: Measles Vaccines Have Saved More Than 20 Million Lives Since 2000

And 47% of children in Madagascar are malnourished — the highest rate of malnourished children in the entire continent of Africa. Being malnourished also increases a child’s risk of health complications and can make them more vulnerable to dying from a measles infection.

Vaccinations are crucial for preventing the measles and other infectious diseases. When enough individuals are vaccinated against diseases, communities can establish herd immunity. For this to occur, a country would need at least 95% of its population to be vaccinated.

Read More: 1 Million Antibiotics Are Being Shipped to Madagascar to Fight the Plague

Madagascar’s measles outbreak has prompted an emergency vaccination response that has led to 2.2 million more people being vaccinated out of the country’s population of 26 million, according to officials.

The country is now requesting help from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Madagascar also plans to enforce a nationwide, two-dose vaccination program later this year.