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Serious Measles Outbreak on Sumba Island, Indonesia
September 14, 2005
Jakarta, September 14, 2005 – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is preparing a massive measles-vaccination campaign on the island of Sumba in Indonesia. The vaccination drive, organized jointly with health authorities in West Sumba and Jakarta, will target 170,000 children between six months and 15 years of age. Twenty vaccination teams are ready to begin vaccinating around the affected areas and then continue to work their way inward towards the epicenter of the outbreak.
On August 24, MSF sent its first team consisting of one medical doctor, one nurse, and two logisticians, to West Sumba in order to investigate reports of a measles outbreak that had killed five people in the sub-district of Kodi. They soon found that the outbreak had already spread into 6 of West Sumba's 15 sub-districts. This prompted MSF to begin a three-month measles emergency project, which will integrate mobile clinic activities (case detection, management, and referral of children to health facilities) and a vaccination campaign.
The mobile clinic teams, which operate in six sub-districts, each consist of a medical doctor, two nurses, and a logistician. Between September 1st and 9th, MSF teams provided 655 consultations out of which they found 102 active measles cases. The other main pathologies they have recorded are upper respiratory tract infections, skin infections, malnutrition, and watery diarrhea. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the ministry of health registered 1,168 measles cases in Kodi Utara (980 cases), Kodi (79), Walandimu (17), Waimangura (20), Rada Mata (15), and Tena Teke (57). One additional measles-related death was found, bringing the initial death toll to six.
For the vaccination campaign, MSF will use more than 200,000 doses of vaccine, 22,000 high-protein biscuits, 125,000 vitamin A tablets, and other relevant medical materials. From Jakarta, MSF has sent around 5.5 metric tons of medical and logistic supplies by charter flight to Waingapu, the capital of East Sumba, from where they were trucked to Waikabubak in the west. An additional 7.5 metric tons of similar materials will be sent later on during the emergency operation.
The measles outbreak on Sumba started in June of this year. The disease spreads very quickly mainly because of low vaccination coverage. The local health authorities have not been able to respond to the problem in a timely fashion, acknowledging that they lack the human resources, expertise, and access to fuel needed for battling the outbreak. Thus far, MSF has deployed around 20 aid workers (doctors, nurses, and logisticians) and intends to staff this humanitarian aid mission with around 35 personnel in total.