(ERGO) – Eleven children have died and more than 40 others have been infected in the past five weeks in a measles outbreak in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region.
According to Intersos, which runs the local hospital in Jowhar as well as a number of health posts in the region, dozens of families in several villages in the region have been affected by the measles outbreak since 20 September.
The first measles cases were reported in Dha’afo in Mahaday district and Burane in Jowhar district.
Dr Abdirahman Ali Abdirahman, director of the Intersos hospital, confirmed the deaths of 11 children, adding that hundreds of others are highly vulnerable to death or permanent disability due to low levels of immunisation.
“The last time a vaccination campaign was carried out in these villages was 2017,” Dr Abdirahman said. “The affected children were mostly those who were not brought for the vaccination because their parents do not understand the importance.”
Jafar Jim’ale Mahad, a father of seven who lives in Dha’afo village, told Radio Ergo that three of his children, a girl and two boys, were infected with measles. He had been using a herbal solution made from a local plant called Marer (Cordia sinensis) to treat the children.
He said the two boys recovered from the disease after several days but his daughter’s condition deteriorated leading to her becoming blind.
“We have been using Marer to treat the children and the boys fully recovered but the girl has been sick for 22 days. We later realised that the girl could not see anything and we rushed her to the hospital where the doctors confirmed that she had lost her sight,” Jafar said.
Adan Muse, 41, who lives in Burane village 20 km from Jowhar town, lost his eight-month old daughter. Four of his children were infected with measles.
“I lost a girl to the disease but the other three are now healthy. We don’t have a dispensary in this village and it is difficult to get any treatment if one falls sick,” Adan said.
Madina Osman Dugow, who lives in Dha’afo village, also lost her four-year old daughter. She blames the death of her daughter on the fact that she was not vaccinated.
“Five of my children have contracted the disease. Four of them were immune to the disease and recovered quickly, but the daughter who was never vaccinated died of the disease,” the bereaved mother said.