DR Congo

DR Congo: Quotes from field staff

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A nurse from Bunia health zone says:
"Scarcely a month since Bunia survived a cholera epidemic, it is hit by measles. During our last round of training given by Medair for treating measles, I discovered the full horror: children, the youngest hardly two months old, looking at me pleadingly as they lie in the arms of desperate mothers sitting wherever they could find a space. All of them wondering what was happening to them. The children, covered with boils, couldn't even suckle because of the lesions in their mouths and their blocked noses. I knew it was measles, but that children two months old were affected, that really was the worst; and especially that it is happening in such isolation and amid such severe malnutrition. Luckily the vaccination campaign is here which is helping us get through such horrors. Thank you Medair!"

A Medair supervisor tells:

"Measles is hitting Bunia, and there are cases reported in every area of town. While sensitising the population about the vaccinations I was at a primary school, and the worry was clearly etched on the faces of the head, the teachers and the students. One pupil aged 7, in his second year, had been a victim of the disease. The news fell like a thunderbolt and caused a fair amount of panic. The teachers fear seeing many students skip classes to avoid being contaminated and dying from the serious complications that measles brings (like respiratory infections, dehydration etc.). Faced with this terror throughout the school, everyone agrees that it is imperative to vaccinate all the children to protect them from this fatal disease."

One of the Medair workers in Bunia:

"Because of the conflict in Ituri, Medair has to do its best to relieve the suffering of the population in a relatively small area, which contains many displaced people who live in terrible conditions and so are exposed to various illnesses. To face this problem, Medair makes its drugs available to those who are vulnerable and carries out medical training in addition to its other work.

During the last few months Medair has had to fight a cholera epidemic, now thankfully under control. To follow through the programme in place, supervisions are organised in the field despite the risks that the war brings. During one of these, 5 measles cases were found, and following a swift evaluation the sad result emerged: every area and ethnic group had been hit by measles. Unfortunately, because of ignorance and a lack of means for treating it, many children were already dead. What could be done in the face of this disaster?

Medair organised free treatment for all measles cases, as well as the training of nurses. After sensitisation of our local partners, the campaign is in the process of coming into being. We recognise all the efforts of everyone involved in providing free treatment and setting in motion the campaign. These efforts have already saved many lives and are continuing to do so."