Cases of Hepatitis, Measles and influenza Spiking across Central Asia

Central Asian countries are experiencing outbreaks of various diseases, including seasonal ones such as influenza, and non-seasonal illnesses including measles and hepatitis. First on the list is Kazakhstan, where an outbreak of measles has been circulating since November 2023. In that month alone, it affected 17,000 people, 82% of whom were children. In December, that figure grew to 19,000 cases.

For the most part, the government bemoaned the fact that the population was reluctant to get vaccinated, imploring people to do so as a matter of urgency. However, opponents of vaccination actively expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the Indian vaccine purchased by the authorities.

In early 2024, the Republican Center for Immunoprophylaxis of Kyrgyzstan reported an outbreak of the same disease. As of February 6th, 2,436 cases had been identified. Health organizations in the country have expressed their intention to strengthen routine immunization, vaccinate those who come into contact with sick people, and increase preventive vaccination coverage with a focus on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

Kyrgyzstan also experienced a measles crisis in 2023. During that year, 7,000 cases of the disease were detected in the country – of which nine cases in children proved fatal.

At the same time, Uzbekistan was hit by another disease – Hepatitis A. In just a month and a half in 2024, 9,507 children contracted the disease. According to data released by the Sanitary and Epidemiological Committee, 365,167 children have received the hepatitis vaccine in the past 12 months, which prevents transmission of the virus in 94-98% of cases.

Uzbekistan has also supported Turkmenistan, with medicines, where there is a different outbreak; the flu has already taken the lives of 33 children, as the Times of Central Asia has previously reported. Currently, it’s children aged five to seven who are most at risk. However, after a sharp outbreak in which doctors lacked medicines and hospital beds for new and returning patients, the incidence rates are now on a downward trajectory.

In addition to Turkmenistan, the flu has also hit Tajikistan. According to the Ministry of Health there, pneumonia – which has symptoms very similar to Covid-19 – has increased dramatically, prompting confused reports that the “Coronavirus is coming back.” However, medical officials refuted this, saying the country is simply experiencing a seasonal increase in the incidence of influenza type a/(H1N1)pdm09, which often leads to pneumonia.