Protecting children against Ebola and measles: a twofold challenge
For thousands of families and children in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the combined threat of Ebola and measles is unprecedented.
“As a father, it is my duty to ensure that my children grow up healthily,” explains Edmond Sesele as he waits patiently for his youngest son to be vaccinated. “The various messages broadcast on the radio and by campaigners said that the vaccine is the best way to prevent measles.”
Edmond was amongst the first to arrive at the vaccination point set up in the grounds of a chapel in the city of Bunia in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “When the measles epidemic was announced, I quickly realised that my children were in danger and that we had to act really fast,” Edmond continues.
At least 1,981 deaths due to measles have been reported this year in the DRC, more than two thirds of which are children under five years of age. In order to contain this measles outbreak, a vaccination campaign was launched as a matter of urgency with UNICEF support to protect 67,000 children. “When I heard about this vaccination campaign, I made arrangements for my children to receive this vaccine,” Edmond explains.
This vaccination campaign is taking place in an area affected by Ebola and massive population displacements. “I was afraid of finding myself with my child caught up in a crowd where everyone wanted to get their child vaccinated first,” says Edmond who dreaded being in direct contact with strangers. “I have been made aware of the Ebola virus, the modes of transmission and the means of prevention,” continues the father.
Upon arrival at the vaccination facility, the father was quickly reassured by the measures put in place to avoid any risk of contamination. “At the entrance, we were asked to wash our hands and our temperature was taken”, explains Edmond who was also directed and accompanied at each stage.
“My children are my hope,” concludes Edmond, who is determined to protect his children from Ebola, measles and all other preventable diseases.