The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

As weather gets hotter, measles cases increased by 37% in the country

More than 3,000 measles cases have been registered nationwide in the past few months, showing an increase of 37 percent compared to the previous year, the Ministry of Public Health said in a statement the other day. The ministry’s spokesperson Sharafat Zaman Amarkhil said that in the first four months of the current year, over three thousand positive cases of the disease have been registered in the country, showing an increase of 37 percent compared to the same time in the previous year, according to the statement. Meanwhile, doctors at the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital report that in the past two months, more than twenty children with measles have been admitted daily to this hospital. “Before March, we admitted around eight patients daily, but now we are admitting eighteen to twenty-one patients daily, amounting to 560 to 620 patients per month,” Mohibullah Habibi a doctor at Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital said. Previously, the World Health Organization reported that the number of suspected measles cases in March exceeded 6,000, with 34 deaths. Also, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in a report said that in the first four months of 2024, the organization saw a surge in measles cases in facilities it runs or supports in three provinces of Afghanistan, affecting many babies and young children. According to MSF, cases of measles were reported annually in Afghanistan, but this year’s spike in Balkh, Herat and Helmand provinces was worrying. It says four in five of those admitted in Herat were under the age of one. According to the MSF report, in Herat, the number of beds in the organization’s isolation unit was doubled from 31 to 61, while the measles isolation unit in Mazar-e-Sharif was running at more than 200 percent capacity between January and March, forcing children to share beds at times. Following the recent flash floods in most provinces of the country, where thousands of people have been displaced, concerns have increased about the potential increase in waterborne diseases. Care International in Afghanistan has expressed concern about the potential increase in waterborne diseases, such as measles and cholera, which must be prevented to avoid worsening the humanitarian situation in the country. “We are deeply saddened by the devastating impact of the recent flash floods that struck northeastern Afghanistan. We are particularly concerned about the impact on vulnerable communities, especially women and girls,” Care International said in a statement. “Our teams are on the ground, providing cash assistance to those affected, including women and girls. We are also concerned about the potential increase in waterborne diseases, such as measles and cholera, which must be prevented to avoid worsening the humanitarian situation,” said CARE Afghanistan Country Director Graham Davison According to Care Afghanistan Country Director, these floods come at a critical time when Afghanistan is facing an underfunded humanitarian crisis. Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. It can cause severe disease, complications, and even death. Measles can affect anyone but is most common in children. Measles infects the respiratory tract and then spreads throughout the body. Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and a rash all over the body. Being vaccinated is the best way to prevent getting sick with measles or spreading it to other people. The vaccine is safe and helps your body fight off the virus. Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963 and widespread vaccination, major epidemics occurred approximately every two to three years and caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year. An estimated 136,000 people died from measles in 2022 – mostly children under the age of five years, despite the availability of a safe and cost-effective vaccine. Accelerated immunization activities by countries, WHO, the Measles and Rubella Partnership (formerly the Measles and Rubella Initiative), and other international partners successfully prevented an estimated 57 million deaths between 2000–2022. Vaccination decreased an estimated measles deaths from 761,000 in 2000 to 136,000 in 2022. Measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases, spread by contact with infected nasal or throat secretions (coughing or sneezing) or breathing the air that was breathed by someone with measles, said Dr. Habibi, adding that the virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours and for this reason, it is very infectious, and one person infected by measles can infect nine out of 10 of their unvaccinated close contacts. It can be transmitted by an infected person from four days prior to the onset of the rash to four days after the rash erupts. Measles outbreaks can result in severe complications and deaths, especially among young, malnourished children. In countries close to measles elimination, cases imported from other countries remain an important source of infection. There is no specific treatment for measles. Caregiving should focus on relieving symptoms, making the person comfortable and preventing complications. All children or adults with measles should receive two doses of vitamin A supplements, given 24 hours apart. This restores low vitamin A levels that occur even in well-nourished children. It can help prevent eye damage and blindness. Vitamin A supplements may also reduce the number of measles deaths. Feda Mohammad

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.