June 19, 2013

Working with Sudan's Ministry of Health, MSF targeted children from six months to 15 years old in Al-Gedaref State.

On May 26, 2013, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) concluded a measles vaccination campaign conducted in five localities in Sudan’s Al-Gedaref State. The campaign, conducted in cooperation with the Sudanese Ministry of Health (MoH) with the aim of preventing a measles epidemic, targeted over 300,000 children.

Three children under the age of 15 died of measles in March, with 32 cases confirmed by the MoH 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.” The campaign was carried out in East Galabat, West Galabat, Gala Alnahal, Basunda, and Rahad localities. MSF ensured that vaccines were shipped and stored appropriatelly, as measles vaccines must be kept cold at all times before they are administered.

There is no specific treament for this viral disease once contracted, so doctors focus on treating the symptoms and associated complications which, including high fever, runny nose, cough, eye infection, rash, diarrhea, secondary infections, and malnutrition. With the MoH, MSF treated 954 patients suspected of having measles. Since March, MSF has supported the treatement of 24 patients requiring hospitalization who were referred to Al-Gedaref hospital. Twenty of those patients have been discharged, with four reported deaths.

Vaccination remains the best form of protection against measles. The campaign targeted children between the ages of six months and 15 years old, as their developing immune systems put them at a higher of risk of becoming infected. “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. 

MSF has been providing medical assistance to the people of Sudan since 1979. Currently, MSF runs medical activities in North and West Darfur states and Al-Gedaref and Sennar states, offering basic and specialist health care and responding to medical emergencies as needed.