Sudan: Médecins Sans Frontières vaccinates over 300,000 against measles in Al-Gedaref
June 18, 2013
A measles vaccination campaign, targeting over 300,000 children in Al-Gedaref state, ended on May 26, 2013. With the Sudanese Ministry of Health, the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched a measles vaccinbation campaign in five localities in Al-Gedaref state, providing medical and logisitical support in an effort to prevent a measles epidemic.
Three children under the age of 15 died of measles in March, with 32 cases confirmed by the Ministry of Health and over 200 suspected cases reported in Al-Gedaref state.
“To reinforce Ministry of Health teams, the first MSF emergency team arrived within 24 hours,” said Karina Rashidova, MSF’s head of mission in Sudan. “One laboratory-confirmed case is enough to call it an outbreak. As measles is a highly contagious disease, immediate vaccination is necessary.” MSF supported the campaign in five localities in Al-Gedaref, including East Galabat, West Galabat, Gala Alnahal, Basunda and Rahad. MSF support included ensuring vaccines were shipped and stored appropriatelly; measles vaccines must be kept cold at all times before they are administered.
There is no specific treament for this viral disease, so doctors focus on treating the symptoms and associated complications of measles, including high fever, runny nose, cough, eye infection, rash, diarrhoea, chest infection and malnutrition. With the Ministry of Health, MSF treated 954 patients suspected of having measles in the five localities. Since March, MSF has supported the treatement of 24 patients requiring hopsitalization who were referred to Al-Gedaref hostpial. Twenty of those patients have been discharged, with four reported deaths.
Vaccination remains the best form of protection against measles. “Mobile teams were sent out to mobilize local communities and carry out vaccinations, resulting in the vaccination of over 1,000 children daily,” said Rashidova.
As measles is highly contagious, close-living settings of Al-Gedaref state increase the risk of infection. The vaccination campaign targeted children between the ages of six months and 15 years old, as they are at a higher of risk of becoming infected because their immune systems are still developing. Children under the age of five suffering from malnutrition are highly vulnerable to the disease.
MSF has been providing medical assistance to the people of Sudan since 1979. Currently, MSF is running medical activities in North and West Darfur states, and Al-Gedaref and Sennar states. MSF offers basic and specialist healthcare, and responds to medical emergencies as needed.