Yellow fever control


Yellow fever is an acute infectious viral haemorrhagic disease, capable of causing explosive outbreaks particularly in densely populated districts and urban areas. Transmitted by infected mosquitoes of the Aedes species, yellow fever is characterized by a sudden onset of fever followed by jaundice, haemorrhagic manifestations, and dehydration, progressing to liver and renal failure in severe cases. There is no specific treatment. However an effective vaccine is available.  Unfortunately, underutilization of this vaccine in the past has contributed to low demand, leading to reduced availability and high cost.

Thirty-two African countries (30 in the WHO/AFRO region) with a total population of 508 million are considered to be at risk for yellow fever, of which 250 million are considered to be particularly vulnerable. In severe epidemics, case fatality could be as high as 40%. Most of the estimated 200,000 yellow fever cases and 30,000 deaths occurring annually are reported from African countries at risk. 

The Role of the Immunization and Vaccine Development (IVD) Program in WHO/AFRO

The principal focus of the IVD program has been to rapidly raise the protection levels in vulnerable populations through routine immunization of infants and mass vaccination of all those 9 months and older in countries and districts at risk. Emphasis has also been placed on early detection and response to epidemics, the promotion of operational research, as well as working with governments at the local and national level to secure and coordinate funding for yellow fever control efforts.  

The IVD program’s role is to provide technical support to countries at risk in order to:

  • Strengthen national health systems to enable early detection of and prompt response to epidemics.
  • Develop, implement and monitor disease surveillance activities, including laboratory confirmation of suspected cases.
  • Strengthen routine immunization including the integration of the yellow fever vaccine in to the EPI.
  • Plan and implement supplemental immunization activities, also referred to as mass vaccination campaigns.


Our Partners

In addition to the national governments, core partners in battling yellow fever in Africa include the US-CDC, UNICEF, ECHO, AMP, MSF and the ICRC. WHO/AFRO also continues to work with the GAVI and associated partners to ensure that the remaining high-risk countries incorporate the yellow fever vaccine into their routine infant immunization programs and that high coverage rates are maintained.


Dr. Olivier Ronveaux
WHO Regional Office for Africa /IVD
Regional Yellow Fever Officer
Tel: +226 50 30 65 09
Fax: +226 55 30 25 41
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it