Mèdecins Sans Frontìères, an international NGO, is currently providing vaccines to curb the rapid measles infection in Niger Republic.
The NGO, Doctors Without Borders, is collaborating with Niger Republic’s health authorities to vaccinate 95 per cent of children in the regions of Niamey, Agadez, Dosso, and Tahoua.
In Niger, measles is the most inflicted, contagious viral disease and one of the main causes of death in young children.
“This is due to rising insecurity and COVID-19, MSF medical coordinator,” François Rubona, whose team has been in the vaccination campaign to protect more than 700,000 children, said.
The measles epidemic in the country has increased rapidly in the regions of Agadez, Dosso, and Tahova. In the first quarter of 2021, Niger Republic recorded 3,213 cases of measles, compared to 1,081 since the previous year.
The first cases were reported earlier this year and more than 6,000 cases in April were notified, with 15 identified deaths, exceeding the statistics for 2020, meaning cases have almost tripled, the Nigerien Ministry of Public Health’s Notifiable Disease Register said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the effective way of controlling measles is through 95 per cent vaccination. But in Niger, the health centres have only 50 per cent vaccination coverage in some affected regions.
“With the impact of insecurities and COVID-19, the vaccination has led to a fall in visits to healthcare centers. As a result, fewer mothers brought their children in for routine vaccination,” MSF medical coordinator said.
“In recent weeks, there has been low participation with rumours of COVID-19 being part of the vaccination process.”
“In Tillabèry, for example, some communities have completely refused to be vaccinated. In Niamey, too, our teams have met with some vaccine hesitancy, linked to rumours that measles and COVID- 19 vaccines were being given simultaneously.”
In Niamey, Nafissa, got her two daughters; Fatima, aged four, and Nana, seven months, to be vaccinated in the Abidjan neighbourhood of Niamey despite the rumours against it.
“Health promoters came to our home to raise awareness about the measles and immediately, I brought my daughters to be vaccinated,” Nafissa said.
She assured other people that the vaccines were for measles patients and not for COVID-19 as purported.
“This year, MSF has shipped 700,000 doses of vaccine and by April in Tillabery, they have been able to record four to five per cent of vaccination coverage,” the MSF director confirmed.
As a result, we have reinforced our community campaign and outreach activities in order to remind families of how measles can impact children’s health and how vaccinating children can help protect them and stop the disease from spreading.”
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