International charity- Save The Children has said that a yellow fever outbreak that has killed hundreds of people in central Africa could spread across the world.
They issued the warning on Tuesday as a massive vaccination campaign was set in motion.
The yellow fever outbreak had spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo from Angola and DRC had declared a yellow fever epidemic in June. In Angola where the epidemic stemmed from, at least 360 deaths have been attributed to the outbreak which is regarded as the worst in decades.
According to the World Health Organization, Angola is starting a campaign this week to vaccinate 3 million people, already the epidemic appears to be declining with no confirmed cases reported in July or August.
One delayed effort to bring the outbreak under control by vaccinating more than 10 million people in DRC was due to start this week. The delays had been as a result of shortages of vaccine and syringes.
Save the Children’s country director for DRC, Heather Kerr, in a statement;
“There is no known cure for yellow fever and it could go global,”
The charity said that there are only 7 million emergency vaccines after stocks were depleted in series of outbreaks earlier this year. The vaccine in question allegedly takes one year to manufacture.
Kerr also said that “We’ve got to urgently reach as many children and families as we can with the supplies that are left, and this is the only way we are able to do that right now,”
The way that she refers to in her statement is advice given by World Health Organisation (WHO) advisers who recommend that a fifth of the standard dose of vaccine should be used in the event of a global shortage. That dosage would be enough to immunize temporarily but not to give lifelong immunity.
WHO aims to vaccinate 8.5 million people in Congo’s capital Kinshasa and 3.4 million in DRC’s border areas before the onset of the rainy season in October, to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases spreading.