IOM Responds to Measles Outbreak in Ethiopia

East Wollega � 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.

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.

Rashal, a mother from East Wollega Zone says: I was in the market when I saw an IOM team gathering people to talk about measles. One of my five children had acquired the illness and I thought keeping him at home was okay. After listening to the information provided by IOM, I learned that bringing him to the health centre will help my child recover while also avoiding the spread of the disease.

Rashal adds: I was so happy to see doctors and IOM staff members at the Adare health centre treating patients coming in. Now, my child is saved.

Karrupiah Vedharaniyam, head of Sub-office at IOM Nekemte, says: IOM, 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 centre, which will enhance capacity to manage incoming caseload. We will continue to assess the conditions to extend further support.

In addition, IOM's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) team is looking to rehabilitate institutional latrines and to add handwashing facilities and water points.

The support by IOM is timely. We were able to reach out to the affected population and to mobilize a team to the field immediately, said Sonan Desalegn, Head of East Wollega ZHB.

Still, needs exist in terms of building capacity of the health extension workers and the system. We look forward to working with IOM continuously.

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.

Source: International Organization for Migration