WHO reports surge in measles cases in Afghanistan

A hospital in Herat. File photo.

The World Health Organization has reported an increase in suspected measles cases in Afghanistan over the past two weeks, following a modest decrease observed in the previous four weeks. According to the UN health agency, the trend in 2024 is higher than that of 2023.

In the 18th week of 2024, the WHO recorded 1,530 suspected cases of measles and two associated deaths. The deaths occurred in Kabul and Kandahar, affecting children under five years old, including one girl.

Since the start of the year, there have been 21,843 suspected measles cases and 100 deaths, indicating a case fatality rate of 0.5%. Of these cases, 17,611 (80.6%) were among children under five, and 9,871 (45.2%) were female.

The report highlighted Balkh as having the highest cumulative incidence of suspected measles per 10,000 people at 16.7%, followed by Samangan at 15.5%, Khost at 13.9%, and Farah at 11.3%.

The collapse of the former government has led to a crisis in Afghanistan’s health sector, exacerbated by the Taliban’s ban on female education, which has resulted in a shortage of female doctors—a significant concern for health organizations.