The outbreak of measles and rubella – also known as German measles or three-day measles – during the months of August to November over the past four years has prompted the Ministry of Health and Social Services to conduct a mass vaccination campaign in July.
Statistics from the health ministry indicate that at least 1 071 cases of measles and Rubella were recorded between January 2011 and August 2015 at health facilities countrywide.
Selma Robert, the national surveillance officer in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, explained that a new dose of measles vaccine against the two diseases will be given to people between the ages of nine months and 39 years old.
She said since 2011 there has been a seasonal trend of measles and Rubella outbreaks, between August and November. During this time there many cases of this nature are reported, partly because it of the warmer temperatures, she explained.
From August to December 2011, 969 cases of measles and rubella were recorded countrywide. In 2012, 484 cases of measles rubella cases were recorded. During the same period in 2013 no less than 1 220 cases of measles and rubella were recorded.
Over the same period in 2014 around 2 424 cases of measles and rubella were recorded, while available statistics for August last year show that 214 cases were recorded during that period.
Robert stressed, however, that cases of measles and rubella are reported throughout the year. The entire country is affected, but for some reason these cases have been reported more frequently in areas such as Windhoek, Rehoboth, Walvis Bay and Engela, added Robert.
“Last year there was a big outbreak of measles and rubella in most districts,” she said. “The infection happens during that time because it’s hot and the transmission is more,” she added, noting that in informal settlements there are likely to be many cases, because they tend to be highly populated. Hygiene and sanitation are also likely to contribute to the infection rate.
Vaccination will take place from July 11 until 26 countrywide. Outreach teams will travel to schools and tertiary institutions, but vaccination will also be administered at public health facilities.