The UN has announced an ambitious aim to eliminate yellow fever in Africa by 2026.
The plans will involve vaccinating almost 1 billion people.
Yellow fever is a mosquito borne disease that causes death in approximately half of all those who develop serious symptoms.
Large epidemics of yellow fever can occur in densely populated areas where infected mosquitos are able to transfer the disease quickly between people.
Despite its severity, yellow fever can be prevented by a simple vaccine that is safe and affordable. A single dose of the vaccine is offers life-long protection against yellow fever disease and a booster dose of the vaccine is not needed.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) commented:
“With one injection we can protect a person for life against this dangerous pathogen”
“This unprecedented commitment by countries will ensure that by 2026 Africa is free of yellow fever epidemics”
Nigeria is currently suffering from an outbreak of yellow fever, with Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo also being highly at risk.
Over half of those being targeted by the plans will be children.
Stefan Peterson, chief of health at the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), added:
“Today, the threat of yellow fever looms larger than ever before, especially for thousands of children across Africa”
Yellow fever’s threat in Africa is increasing due to urban migration and rapid population growth in urban areas.
Stefan Peterson noted:
“These areas tend to have high numbers of people living in close proximity with poor hygiene and sanitation - all the conditions that make it ripe for a disease outbreak”
The vaccinations will be carried out in collaboration between WHO, UNICEF and the GAVI global vaccine alliance and over 50 health partners.
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Image credit: Yale Scientific