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News: Measles outbreak kills 22 children in Hadiya Zone, Central Ethiopia region

Due to the considerable rise in measles patients and a shortage of beds, Shone Primary Hospital, situated in the Hadiya Zone, has turned to offering treatment to patients in temporary tents (Photo: Nega Desalegn)

Addis Abeba – A measles outbreak in the Hadiya Zone of the recently formed Central Ethiopia region has led to the deaths of 22 children within the last fourteen days.

Nega Desalegn, a laboratory practitioner at Shone Primary Hospital, disclosed to Addis Standard that the outbreak has attained significant prevalence within the zone, with Shone town bearing a particularly heavy burden. In Shone town alone, over 80 individuals have received diagnoses of measles, according to the medical practitioner.

“Owing to the substantial influx of patients and a deficiency in available beds, the hospital has resorted to providing treatment to individuals in temporary tents,” Nega stated.

Moreover, the medical practitioner revealed that over 200 individuals presently carry a diagnosis of measles across the East Badawacho, West Badawacho, and Siraro Badawacho districts within the Hadiya Zone.

According to Nega, children comprise the majority of the deceased, ranging from 2 to 12 years old. “For the past fortnight, one or two children have succumbed to the illness each day.”

Nega attributed the spread of the outbreak to the absence of vitamin A vaccination. He clarified that hospitals in the zone had shuttered, and medical personnel were on strike owing to outstanding salaries, impeding vaccination initiatives.

Two months ago, Addis Standard reported that government employees in the East Badawacho district of the Hadiya Zone had been engaged in a work stoppage for the preceding three months because of overdue salaries.

Consequently, this strike has led to the cessation of operations at local hospitals, public schools, and government establishments. Notably, Shone Primary Medical Center has witnessed a substantial portion of its staff participating in the strike, rendering its services inactive.

Nega voiced apprehension regarding the formidable nature of the outbreak, notwithstanding the endeavors of district and zonal authorities. He urged the Ministry of Health to intervene promptly and undertake decisive measures to curb the propagation of the measles outbreak in the Hadiya Zone.

Ethiopia confronts a persistent prevalence of measles, with documented cases occurring annually. As indicated by a WHO report released in May 2023, confirmed measles cases witnessed a substantial increase from 1,953 in 2021 to 9,291 (a surge exceeding 375%) in 2022, followed by 6,933 cases in 2023.

Recently, the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission (DRMC) and the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator highlighted a surge in measles cases, as well as malaria and cholera, attributed to drought conditions affecting communities with reduced resilience. AS

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