Fighting measles, one vaccine at a time
Measles is a major cause of death among children, but we can easily stop it with a safe and effective vaccine.
A small crowd is gathered around a vaccine site set up in the middle of Ngazamba village, in the province of North-Ubangi. The residents, of this North-West village of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are patiently waiting to vaccinate their children against measles.
Today, it is the male nurse Léopold Dangbe who is in charge of protecting the children by administering the precious vaccine. Sitting on his father’s lap, the young Blaise is about to be vaccinated. “Measles is a very serious and deadly disease”, explains the nurse. The measles virus spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.
In just a few hours, nurse Léopold Dangbe vaccinated dozens of children, thus offering them an effective protection against the infection. When 13 years old Malewa arrived for his vaccine, the nurse noticed that the boy had measles symptoms and directed the boy towards the neighboring health center.
On site, the nurse Denise Yabeli examined the boy who developed a skin rash, a fever, and a runny nose. A blood test confirmed that the young boy had measles. He was quickly treated thanks to antibiotics, rehydration salts, vitamins, and other drugs that were provided by UNICEF at the health center.
Measles remains one of the important causes of death among children in DRC. A few kilometers from the health center, Melissa still cries the death of her son. When her boy suffered from fever and skin rash, Melissa waited before consulting because she did not know measles and its symptoms. “When I brought him to the health center, he died two days later”, explains the mother who regrets not having reacted more quickly.
I would like to ask all Congolese mothers to go to the health center and vaccinate their children”, said Melissa who now knows the importance of vaccination. In addition to supporting routine vaccination, UNICEF helped protect more than 1,3 million children during targeted responses campaigns organized throughout the country since January 2021. Treatment kits were also provided to the health centers to help treat the symptoms of more than 55.000 children with measles.