Five day measles vaccination campaign launched in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Teams from the Malteser International relief service are in place for a five day vaccination campaign in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to contain a measles epidemic.

Malteser, the Order of Malta’s worldwide humanitarian aid organization, is cooperating closely with UNICEF on plans to vaccinate over 630,000 children between six months and 15 years of age in 11 health zones in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between May 18 and May 22, AlertNet reports.

To prevent further spread of the disease, Malteser International said that nearly 1,200,000 children in 25 health zones must be vaccinated.

“We have 11 teams coordinating a total of 733 local teams which are going around the villages with megaphones to inform the population about the vaccination campaign”, Christof Ruhmich, program coordinator for Malteser International in Bukavu, said, according to AlertNet.

The teams has hung posters to educate locals about the importance of the vaccine in addition to TV and radio spots. The local staff in healthcare units has been prepared for the vaccination campaign to ensure that mothers bring their children for vaccination, that cases of the disease are carefully monitored and that infected patients are treated professionally.

The campaign for vaccination, financed by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department, is also taking place in four other provinces in the country. According to the Congolese health department, 2,493 people in five provinces had been infected this year as of mid-April, with seven reported deaths from the disease. Without proper vaccination, measles may kill up to 15 percent of infected children, the organization said.