There is a complex measles vaccination campaign going on in the northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where 67,000 Iturianian children are being fought for by health workers who know they need to be vaccinated. They are in extreme danger as armed conflict is going on there, and the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak on record took place there as well.
Why does something need to be done?
Measles took the lives of almost 2,000 people according to a DRC report from last year, over two-thirds of that number being children younger than five years old. Compared to the previous year when 65,000 suspected measles cases have been reported, as of 23 June, there are about 115,000 in total.
An Ebola outbreak began about a year ago striking North Kivu and Ituri making 50 victims and affecting from than 5,400 people. According to Edouard Beigbeder, a UNICEF DRC Representative, there are thousands of families threatened by both measles and Ebola, making them live in unsanitary displacement camps. However, he said that they might be able to do something.
What can be done to fight measles and Ebola in Congo?
A massive influx of families took place in Bunia, Ituri where the first anti-measles vaccinations sites were placed. There is a distance of 100 meters between an Ebola treatment center and the General Hospital of Bunia where people could get vaccinated. In addition to that, in the past three weeks, 5 Ebola cases were seen three kilometers away from the same location.
Because of the Ebola outbreak, more security measures need to be taken for the measles vaccination campaign to take place properly. Because health workers need to protect themselves from body fluids and blood, they must wear special gowns. Suspected Ebla cases will be evaluated and referred by an additional health worker who also oversees handwashing and checks temperatures.
Lena Pierce is a reporter for Great Lakes Ledger. After graduating from Ryerson In Toronto, Lena got an internship at CBC radio in Calgary. Lena was also a beat reporter for the Calgary Flames. Lena mostly cover sports and community events. Contact Lena here.