Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency teams have vaccinated almost 10,000 children in the Gadzi area of the Central African Republic, about 300 kilometres west of Bangui, after the appearance of several cases of measles led the local authorities to raise the alarm. The vaccination teams had to cope with major access problems due to the poor state of the roads and the dispersion of the population in the area, where more than 70,000 people live with virtually no basic healthcare.
After two weeks of the campaign, a total of 9,717 children were vaccinated. Some 9,000 children between six months and five years old received measles immunisation. Of these, nearly a thousand were also vaccinated against pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcus is a bacterium responsible for various infections, especially respiratory ones. Additionally, about 700 babies under six months were vaccinated just against pneumococcus disease.
“The campaign began after the alert from a Gadzi local authority, who warned us in late September that there were cases of measles in the area. Initial laboratory tests were negative, but in spite of that a first distribution of drugs was still carried out,” says Montse Pubill, emergency team medical coordinator. “The intervention was complicated by the violence that erupted in the country in October, which caused dozens of deaths in the capital. But the warnings from Gadzi continued and in November a second round of analyses confirmed the presence of measles, so an emergency vaccination was launched,” explains Pubill, a specialist in family medicine who had already worked in the Central African Republic in 2012.
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