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Measles epidemic in DRC: “When we arrived, we found a lot of ill children”

26 Apr 2017

Koko Otato is leaving the measles in-patient department at the Médecins Sans Frontières-supported Kibombo referral hospital in Maniema province with her daughter Kioto, who was hospitalised for measles complications.

“I’ve already lost a child to measles. At the time, I hadn’t heard of the disease, and it was too late when we arrived at the hospital. I used traditional medicine; we didn’t know that it was measles, that’s why the child died. But I understood that traditional medicine doesn’t work as well as the hospital’s. Kioto had a high fever, she was coughing and her mouth was very red. When the spots appeared, I realised that it was measles and I walked her to the hospital: they gave us food, the treatment was free and the child was looked after.”

Mwayuma Ramazani is leaving the measles in-patient department at the Médecins Sans Frontières-supported Kindu referral hospital in Maniema province with her child who was hospitalised for measles complications.

“I knew about measles, but it’s the first time that the illness has affected my children. When measles arrived in our village, a lot of children died, especially when the parents used traditional medicine. But those who rushed to the health centres could see that their children were saved. When my child started to get feverish, I used a traditional treatment, I tried to give her an enema, but it didn’t work. I learned that Médecins Sans Frontières was there to help, and so I decided to go to the health centre. When I arrived, the Médecins Sans Frontières mobile team took us to the hospital.”

Joseph Musakane, head of Médecins Sans Frontières for the Kindu, Alunguli and Kailo health zones in Maniema province

“When we arrived, we found a lot of ill children. There was a measles-related mortality rate of around 12%: now, after our intervention, it is less than 2%. But it wasn’t easy. Reaching some health zones sometimes requires three days of walking. It takes seven to ten days to transport vaccines and equipment, and to vaccinate all of the children.”

 

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