MEASLES IN DR CONGO: “Children are the primary victims of the outbreak”

03-02-2020

The current measles outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest outbreak ever recorded in the world. According to the World Health Organization, since January 1, 2019, more than 311,000 suspected cases have been reported in DRC, with more than 6,000 deaths. ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action) is active in the province of Kasai, and is currently providing patient care and treatment.

DRC’s Kasai region has been plagued for the past several years by conflict and insecurity, which has had a very serious impact on the health system. The current measles outbreak is further exacerbating the already-high medical needs. 

“The situation in the Kasai region remains worrying and our teams are working hard to manage the new measles cases arriving at the health facilities we support,” says Dr. Ibrahim Kandian Diallo, head of ALIMA programs.

In 2019, more than 18 million children under the age of five were vaccinated as part of a nationwide campaign conducted by the Ministry of Health, but in some provinces, such as Kasai, immunization coverage remains low, and an estimated 75 percent of reported measles cases involve children under the age of five.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases and is particularly deadly for children. Symptoms include fever, rash and conjunctivitis. Without treatment, complications can include diarrhea, pneumonia, brain damage and eye damage. 

“Children are the main victims of the outbreak,” ALIMA’s former head of programs, Dr. Oumarou Maidadji, said. “Measles is dangerous as it can trigger respiratory or digestive complications, if the symptoms are not managed.” As for treatment, he explains: “It is a week-long treatment, which consists of treating pathologies, which can include diarrhea or lung infections. If the patient is treated at an early stage, measles can be successfully cured,” he said. 

From 2018 to 2019, ALIMA teams coordinated a response to the measles outbreak in the Kalonda West health zone, to help support local capacity, due to the destruction of health structures, lack of medication and a lack of quality training of health workers.

Our teams are currently working in the Lubilanji and Citenge health zones. This new area of intervention for ALIMA in the province of Kasai, which has two main focuses: 

The first is the medical care of patients suspected of being infected with measles, by making available disease management kits for health workers and patients, including antibiotics. The second is the strengthening of community surveillance of the disease.

In addition, in order to carry out the effective treatment of patients with measles, ALIMA is also training local health workers. 

In 2019, our teams supported 28 health centers. In addition to these actions, ALIMA also provides nutritional supplementation for children suffering from measles, as well as the detection and follow-up of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. 

*Photos: Sylvain Cherkaoui / ALIMA 

Senegal office

Route de l'Aéroport,
Rue NG 96
BP: 15530. Dakar, Sénégal

France office

15, rue des immeubles industriels 75011 Paris
+33 (0)1 40 33 95 19

USA office

One Whitehall Street, 2nd Fl,
 New York NY 10004
+1 (646) 619-9074

Australia office

15 Hazlewood Street
New Farm, Brisbane
Queensland Australia 4005
 +61 419 744 274
Senegal office
Route de l'Aéroport, Rue NG 96
   BP: 15530. Dakar, Sénégal
office@alima.ngo
France office
15, rue des immeubles industriels
   75011 Paris France.
+33 (0)1 40 33 95 19
office@alima.ngo
USA office
One Whitehall Street, 2nd Fl,
    New York NY 10004, USA
+1 (646) 619-9074
info.usa@alima.ngo
Australia office
PO Box 3716,
  Marsfield NSW 2122, Australia
+61 298682400
info.aus@alima.ngo
For the United States: 100% of your donation will be tax-deductible. ALIMA USA, Inc., is recognized as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. EIN: 26-0397519.

For France: Association Law 1901 - Registration and SIREN number : 831 620 398

Under the French tax system, you will benefit from an income tax reduction of 75% of the amount of your donations up to a maximum of 1 000 euros. Beyond that amount, donations are 66% tax deductible up to an equivalent of 20% of your taxable income.