Flu season has descended upon America hard this year, starting its heavy hitting in December when it usually doesn’t peak until January or February. Statistics are showing that more than half of the country has already visited the doctor for flu-like symptoms this year alone, making this flu season strikingly similar in severity to that of the 2003-04 season. Even though vaccine shortages are causing issues, we are still fortunate enough to have access to doctors and medications to lessen the blow of this flu season. With the flu outbreak on our home front, what diseases are taking center stage in other countries across the world?
In the Republic of Congo, yellow fever hit hard in early October of 2012. An emergency vaccination campaign was launched in mid December to cover around 35,000 people. This vaccination campaign was made possible by the International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Vaccination Provision, which is made up by the World Health Organization and varying partners. They’ve reserve approximately 2 million doses of the vaccine specifically for outbreaks such as the one in the Congo.
At the end of November, confirmed cases of Ebola were found in Uganda. This is a very contagious virus with 90% fatality rates. Despite campaigns to raise awareness, many of the people still believe that deaths caused by Ebola are rather a consequence of witch craft, not the disease. The WHO has an infection prevention specialist in the field to hopefully stop further spreading of the disease.
Last summer, in July of 2012, a cholera epidemic broke out in Sierra Leone. The President of Sierra Leone referred to the outbreak as a “humanitarian crisis”. A handful of international partners and donors such as UNICEFF, the British Red Cross, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, just to name a few, have come together to help over the past six months. They have managed to bring the case numbers and fatality rates down drastically since July.
With these only being a few of the disease outbreaks to take place this past year, it’s important to remember health issues that are happening outside of our country. If you are looking to get involved, check out the donation possibilities for the World Health Organization and don’t forget to stay up to date with our projects at Profugo!