Baby Eliane beats measles

As measles has already killed 4,500 children this year, UNICEF is encouraging parents to attend health centres and get their children vaccinated.

Manuela Huyghues Despointes (translated from French by Amber Sherman)
23 December 2019
Bébé Eliane a survécu à la rougeole en RDC
UNICEF DRC Despointes

“I realise that my little girl has escaped death”, explains Mahombi Lubula, holding little Eliane in her arms. A few months ago, Mahombi thought she was going to lose her daughter, who had just celebrated her first birthday.  

Despite growing healthily, Eliane suddenly developed a high fever which could not be reduced, despite cold baths and Paracetamol. “I didn’t understand what was happening”, recalls Eliane’s mother, reliving the nightmare she experienced 6 months ago. As Eliane’s temperature continued to climb, the mother rushed to her closest health centre.

North-Kivu province was at that time facing an Ebola epidemic and the mother imagined the worst. “I thought it was malaria or even Ebola”, Eliane’s mother remembers with tears in her eyes. Fortunately, tests came back negative and the little girl was kept under observation for 48 hours.

“Very quickly, signs such as mouth sores and skin rashes appeared”, explains Mwami Ndamya, the health centre nurse who then realised that Eliane was suffering from measles. When the diagnosis was made, Mwami Ndamya immediately began treating the little girl with antibiotics and vitamins contained in the anti-measles kit supplied by UNICEF. After three days of care, the little girl was already a lot better and had found her smile again.

“It’s a real miracle”, concludes Eliane’s mother.

UNICEF has distributed 1,317 medical kits to combat measles – containing antibiotics, rehydrating salts, vitamin A and other medicines – to the affected health zones, in order to treat children suffering from complications. Despite the availability of these medical kits, unsafe conditions and a lack of access to health care prevents some families from attending a health centre. “There can also be a certain distrust of vaccines due to miseducation”, explains nurse Mwami Ndamya.

With the support of Sida, UNICEF and its partners carry out measles vaccination campaigns in the most affected areas and support communications efforts to encourage all parents to attend health centres and get their children vaccinated.