UN’s unprecedented commitment by countries will ensure that by 2026 Africa is free of yellow fever epidemics, said Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the programme’s launch in Nigeria, a priority target country.
Nigeria suffers from the yellow fever outbreak, hundreds of suspected cases reported after a 7-year-old girl developed fever, vomiting and abdominal pain in August. According to the local WHO office, the disease can spread fast in highly populated areas with devastating consequences. The official United Nations Children’s Fund’s statement reads:
“Today, the threat of yellow fever looms larger than ever before, especially for thousands of children across Africa.”
Stefan Peterson of UNICEF added as well that a major vaccination campaign in Angola and Congo in 2016 brought one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in decades under control after more than 400 people died.
Today, the main obstacle for the medics in Africa is active moving of population, people come back from rural to urban areas, particularly to slums, said Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s chief of immunisation. That is one reason the yellow fever is spreading.
“These areas tend to have high numbers of people living in close proximity with poor hygiene and sanitation – all the conditions that make it ripe for a disease outbreak,”
Mr Nandy said.
The virus of yellow fever also poses a serious risk in Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, UNICEF said. The vaccination programme is a joint venture by the WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI global vaccine alliance and more than 50 health partners, this initiative will help to achieve UN’s main goal – to eliminate yellow fever epidemics in Africa by 2026.