Jean-Jacques Cornish

Congo declares world’s worst measles outbreak is over

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Not one but two pieces of excellent medical news out of Africa this week.

The Democratic Republic of Congo announces that the world’s worst measles outbreak which killed more than 7000 children under five-years-old is over.

The announcement by Health Minister Eteni Londondo  still requires authentication by the World Health Organization which a day earlier 

declared Africa free of wild polio.

The measles outbreak occurred 25-months ago in the south-eastern corner of the DRC and then spread to all 26 provinces.

It infected 335 000 children who suffered blindness, brain swelling, diarrhea and respiratory infection. 

Congo’s hard-pressed medical infrastructure mounted a massive vaccination programme targeting millions of children.

Fighting measles, they were also combatting an EBOLA outbreak that killed 2287 people, vaccine-induced polio, COVID 19, which has killed 251 of the nearly 10 000 people it sickened, and even the bubonic plague. 

The end of the Congolese outbreak doesn’t allow medics to take their foot off the gas there or in any low income country.

An article in The Lancet earlier this year quoted  Tanja  Ducomble and Etienne  Gignano of Medecins Sans Frontieres saying outbreaks occur every two years in the DRC another countries that have a gap in vaccinations and poor access to health care.

Madagascar, Chad and Nigeria are African countries still fighting outbreaks and further afield the Philippines, Yemen and Ukraine are currently experiencing extensive measles infections.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.