European Union Allocates Support to Stop the Ongoing Measles Outbreak in Liberia￼
MONROVIA – As a contribution to the efforts deployed to stop the ongoing measles outbreak affecting 14 of the 15 counties in Liberia, the EU contributes around 24 million Liberian Dollars to provide public health and community-based support in the eight most affected counties.
This EU funding will enable the Liberian Red Cross to support a mass vaccination campaign through social mobilization, awareness, and community engagement activities, in coordination with the Ministry of Health and other partners, while improving community monitoring and reporting of measles cases.
The humanitarian aid will directly benefit the overall population of the eight counties targeted. Approximately 305 000 people will be reached, and priority will be given to groups at higher risk of developing severe illnesses, such as unvaccinated children under five, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, and people with special needs. Rapid detection and encouragement of early visits at health facilities, coupled with education on protective practices, will be the main areas of focus to prevent a further spread of measles in the country.
The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
On Thursday 21 April 2022, the Liberia Health Ministry declared a measles outbreak affecting 14 of the 15 counties in the country. According to the Liberian government, the outbreak is a result of low immunisation rates, due to disruption of immunisation activities during the COVID-19 pandemic and people’s general misconceptions on immunisation. Montserrado County alone accounted for 135 cases. Moreover, two County Health Teams, Nimba and Grand Bassa, reported on 22 April respectively 230 and 91 cases. The total number of cases from these counties accounted for 456, including 189 probable and 236 suspected cases.
Measles is endemic in Liberia. However, the rapid increase in number of cases and geographical scope of the outbreak highlights a spike in cases, with a need to increase and enhance the vaccination of children under five years old.
The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.
Through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the European Union provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.
The European Union is signatory to a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.
The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF. For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The delegation agreement between the IFRC and ECHO enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million.