In the past month, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in the Bunyakiri region of Democratic Republic of Congo's South Kivu Province have vaccinated more than 65,000 children aged 6 months to 15 years against measles. The campaign had to be briefly suspended in the north of the region due to the volatile security situation in an area where several armed groups are present and fighting is frequent.
The operation in Bunyakiri was also complicated by the mountainous geography of the region and rivers swollen during the current rainy season. This latest outbreak of measles, which can be lethal in children also affected by malnutrition, was detected last October when the first cases arrived to area health centers. After completing an epidemiological analysis of the situation, MSF decided to launch the mass vaccination campaign.
More than 100 people participated in MSF’s vaccination campaign and treatment program. Begun once it was possible to access the northern reaches of the region, the vaccination was carried out from December 26 to January 19.
Teams were based in different health centers and the population was called on to bring in their children. Mobile teams moved into the more inaccessible areas by motorbike. The campaign reached at least 75 percent of the children in the region despite the difficulties in access, the security issues, and the highly mobile nature of the population.