Measles outbreak hits Africa

UNICEF, the UN agency devoted exclusively to the needs of the world's children, said yesterday that 16 countries in West and Central Africa were experiencing a measles outbreak this year.

Unicef said 185 people have died among more than 22000 cases. The agency said it was R119million short in its measles immunisation campaign in Africa.

Unicef said most countries in West and Central Africa had immunised less than 80percent of their population. Last year, more than 400 people died of measles in West Africa. Measles is one of the most infectious diseases that exists.

Though it is no longer a major problem in the West, in poor countries, the disease can kill as many as 30percent of the children it infects, particularly in those with weakened immune systems. - Sapa-AP