08 Jan 14 24 Jan 14

CAR: MSF vaccinates 68,000 children against measles in Bangui camps

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is vaccinating 68,000 children against measles in camps across the capital of Central African Republic.  

With measles cases confirmed among children in several displacement camps in Bangui, where hundreds of thousands of people are sheltering, the measure was taken in five camps across the city to prevent an outbreak.

Deadly disease

"Measles can be a very deadly disease for children and is highly contagious,” said MSF’s vaccination coordinator Tessy Fautsch. “Ten to thirty percent of those children with already low natural immunity do not survive, unless they are vaccinated.”

MSF has already vaccinated more than 25,000 children in the Don Bosco and Boy Rabe camps, and plans to have vaccinated 40,000 children in Mpoko camp and 3,000 children in the Saint Michel and Saint Elime camps by Friday (10th January) this week.

“As many of the children in the camps are weak and living in deplorable conditions, we absolutely want to prevent an epidemic, which is why we are carrying out these vaccinations,” adds Tessy.

A measles vaccination underway at Mpoko camp in Bangui.
© Pierre Terdjman/Cosmos

Preventing an epidemic

All children between six months and 15-years-old are being vaccinated, which accounts for 40 percent of the total camp population. MSF also screens children that are under five-years-old for malnutrition and treats the severe cases. Complicated cases are referred to a specialised centre. 

Measles is highly contagious and is easily and rapidly transmitted from one person to another through coughing, sneezing and close personal contact. The risks of transmission are therefore greater in overcrowded settings, such as the camps in Bangui.

Complications are common, and include severe respiratory infections (pneumonia), severe diarrhoea and dehydration, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Measles can also cause blindness and ear infections. Children, especially those that are malnourished, are most vulnerable to the disease.

Find out more about MSF's work in the current crisis in Central African Republic