1. DR Congo declares end to world's biggest measles outbreak

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A young girl and her little sister are vaccinated for measles in a makeshift camp on December 8, 2005
    Image caption: At least 18 million children were vaccinated last year

    The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo say the world's largest measles outbreak that killed more than 7,000 children has now ended.

    Efforts to stop its spread were hampered by an under-resourced health system as well as conflict.

    Health experts say the actual number of deaths from measles could be far higher as many cases go unreported.

    At a press conference in the capital, Kinshasa, Health Minister, Eteni Longondo, said measles no longer existed in the country.

    He said a formal declaration about the end of the epidemic "will be made soon".

    Whilst international health partners are yet to confirm this, the announcement comes after a huge vaccination campaign that reached at least 18 million children last year.

    The Democratic Republic of Congo has been experiencing recurring outbreaks for the last decade but the infections increased significantly in June last year and quickly overwhelmed the country's under resourced health system.

    Health workers have over the last year simultaneously battled measles, vaccine-derived polio, cholera, coronavirus, two Ebola epidemics and the bubonic plague.

    The daunting task made even harder by the country's poor infrastructure and numerous conflicts.


  2. Backslide in vaccine rates puts Congelese youth at risk

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    The UN children's agency, Unicef, says a reduction in vaccination rates in the Democratic Republic of Congo could erase the gains made from immunisation over the past two years.

    Unicef said vaccinations were already declining at the beginning of this year, and that the effects of coronavirus will make it worse.

    Health workers lack equipment to protect themselves or the children from Covid-19, and parents are afraid to bring them to vaccination centres.

    Hundreds of thousands of children have not received polio, measles, yellow fever and other vaccines.

    DR Congo might lose its polio-free status and there could be a resurgence of other deadly diseases.

    The country has been affected by decades of conflict and an Ebola epidemic.

    Unicef is worried that the effects of coronavirus could now push it over the edge.

  3. GP surgery child jab uptake 'inadequate'

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    The health regulator has criticised a Chelsea GP surgery for a catalogue of problems, including a low uptake of children getting jabs for measles and other serious diseases.

    Chelsea Medical Services in affluent Rosary Gardens has 3,100 registered patients.

    But on 7 February the Care Quality Commission (CQC) graded it “inadequate” overall, having previously been rated “good”.

    The CQC inspector’s report said the number of two-year-olds who received the measles mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) in 2014-15 was 72%.

    In 2018-2019 it had fallen to 51.6%, compared with the national target of 90% which all GP surgeries were set. Last year saw an outbreak of measles cases across London.

    There was also criticism about the low rate of women receiving cervical cancer screenings.

    This was 41.5% in 2018/2019 compared to the national achievement target of 80%.

    An NHS spokesperson for the GP surgery said the borough of Kensington and Chelsea generally has a low rate of cervical cancer screenings “in part due to people moving address comparatively frequently compared to the rest of the country”.

    And because many are international citizens who have received screenings “outside the NHS”.

    The spokesperson said nursing recruitment was also an issue for many practices in the area.

  4. Samoa measles: unvaccinated families told to hang red flag outside their home

    Video content

    Video caption: 62 people have died over the last few weeks and most of them were children.