Médecins Sans Frontières, popularly known as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is working alongside the Borno state government to conduct a measles vaccination campaign for children between six months and nine years.
The campaign is in response to the upsurge in cases of the virus in the areas surrounding Maiduguri.
A statement on Thursday by the organisation, which quoted MSF Head of Mission in Nigeria, David Thérond said: “This is the first time MSF has the opportunity to be involved in a measles vaccination campaign in Borno state,
“We welcome this catch-up campaign because measles is extremely contagious and especially dangerous for young children, particularly those suffering from malnutrition or other co-morbidities.”
The statement said the campaign which started on 26 April and was planned for five days aims to reach 103,823children living in the districts of Gwange 1, 2 and 3, as well as 277,395 children in the informal IDP camps located in the districts of Bolori 1 and 2.
MSF teams are also supporting the state government to vaccinate 34,290 children in Khaddamari, a town close to Zabarmari, from where a large number of measles cases have emerged.
According to the statement, MSF started receiving children with measles in December 2020 in Gwange paediatric hospital in Maiduguri. Since then, the number of cases has been increasing with 61% coming from Zabarmari. A total of 1,698 measles cases has been treated in Gwange paediatric hospital from 1st January 2021 to 25th April 2021, out of which 1,167 were admitted into the inpatient department and 49 deaths were recorded.
It added that during the same period, the MSF team in Fori have treated a further 103 children, already suffering from measles and malnutrition.
Thérond emphasized that: “Routine vaccinations are critical, they save lives,” noting that: “When they are not possible for security reasons, a catch-up vaccination campaign like this one must be organised as soon as the first cases emerge.”
The statement revealed that: “In order to protect the community from COVID-19 during the vaccination campaign, MSF is providing 40,000 face masks to the staff doing the vaccination as well as to the mothers of children who are being immunised.”