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A personal reflection: Why Congo has the largest measles outbreak in the world

By Beth Duff-Brown

When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Democratic Republic of Congo a few decades ago, measles wasn’t a major problem.

But now, the death toll from measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has surpassed 6,000, nearly three times the number of those killed by the ongoing Ebola epidemic spreading in in the eastern part of this vast central Africa nation.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 310,000 suspected cases of measles cases reported in 2019, making it the worst outbreak anywhere in the world. Measles have been reported in every province and 90% of the deaths have been among children.

Having spent nearly all of last September in Congo, many have asked me how the highly infectious, yet easily preventable disease could scale so dramatically.

Where to begin?

During my three weeks in the country, I observed a near-total breakdown of government services. That didn’t surprise me, as the country is always in turmoil. But the everyday difficulties of life now seemed magnified. Read the whole story on Scope.