UN Responds to Measles Outbreak in Western Ethiopia

EAST WELLEGA – Ethiopia’s Public Health Emergency Management department has recorded more than 700 cases of measles since an outbreak was declared on 24 January 2020.

However, the actual caseload in the community remains undetermined due to inaccessibility of some among the affected areas.

The outbreak was declared in the East Wollega Zonal Health Bureau, in the country’s southern district of Nunu Kumba, with the first case dating back to early December 2019.

The UN migration agency, IOM, is supporting the government with social mobilization and has reached out to more than 15,000 individuals in Adare and Brinkas Kebeles (districts) with health awareness messaging, including breaking measles-related taboos.

The outbreak has claimed five lives in East Wollega, but thanks to intensified surveillance and case management, no further measles-related deaths were recorded after 27 January.

“One of my five children had acquired the illness and I thought keeping him at home was okay,” Rashal, a mother from East Wollega Zone, said. “After listening to the information provided by IOM, I learned that bringing him to the health center will help my child recover while also avoiding the spread of the disease.”

Karrupiah Vedharaniyam, head of Sub-office at IOM Nekemte, said the UN agency with its shelter team, plans to support the delivery of non-food items, the construction of a temporary kitchen and to rehabilitate the current isolation room in Adare health center.

It aims “to enhance capacity to manage incoming caseload. We will continue to assess the conditions to extend further support”, he added.

IOM’s response to the measles outbreak in Ethiopia was made possible through the support of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund and the Ethiopian Humanitarian Funds.