By Vatican News
Pope Francis on Saturday met with members of a Malagasy family that contracted measles during the country’s worst outbreak of the epidemic.
The meeting took place after the recitation of the Midday Prayer and the blessing of the altar in the Cathedral of Morondava.
Madagascar’s worst measles outbreak ever
According to UNICEF, Madagascar has reported more than 118,000 cases of measles in first six months of the year, and there have been 1,688 reported deaths.
The outbreak proved so deadly because so many in the island nation are desperately poor and there is poor vaccine coverage and lack of access to health resources.
Just 58 % of people on Madagascar's main island have been vaccinated against measles, a major factor in the outbreak's spread. With measles one of the most infectious diseases, immunization rates need to be 90 to 95 % or higher to prevent outbreaks.