WHO Intensifies Efforts Against Yellow Fever Outbreaks in Africa


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter



WEDNESDAY, March 28, 2024 - The World Health Organization (WHO) is scaling up its offensive against a surge of yellow fever outbreaks sweeping across the African continent, with 13 countries reporting cases amid the rise of an urban mosquito vector.


As of late February, the WHO African Region had identified probable and confirmed yellow fever infections in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Togo and Uganda. 


While assessed as a moderate risk regionally and low risk globally for now, the situation remains precarious due to potential further spread through travel and presence of mosquito species capable of transmission in neighboring regions.


"With a case fatality rate of 11% in 2023, we're seeing the severity of this outbreak unfold," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. "That's why we're intensifying vaccination and surveillance efforts as a matter of urgency."


The rapid proliferation of Aedes mosquitoes, which spread yellow fever by biting during daytime hours, has amplified transmission risks - particularly in Africa's booming urban centers where dense populations exist.


In 2023 alone, the WHO-led Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) partnership coordinated vaccination of approximately 62 million Africans through preventive and reactive campaigns. Sudan also conducted a major catch-up drive immunizing 4 million people against the viral disease.


However, with a substantial number of cases still occurring, authorities remain on high alert and urge continued vigilance by communities.


"Robust disease surveillance, ensuring vaccine stockpile access, raising awareness - these are all critical to stemming yellow fever's resurgence in Africa," Moeti said. "Preparedness and prevention are key to sparing more lives."


Health officials also caution travelers to affected regions to get vaccinated, use insect repellent, and stay in screened or air-conditioned areas to reduce mosquito exposure risks.


Containing the urban spread of this once rurally-concentrated disease requires multilateral coordination by African nations, WHO and global health partners in what may be a protracted battle against an evolving threat.


Source: World Health Organization 


Related: Yellow Fever: Africa Region Situation Report 2023-2024



Published: March 28, 2024

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