10/01/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/01/2019 10:21
As her bus approached the town of Masi Manimba, Rosette Mboma heard a local radio announcement for free measles vaccinations for children the following day.
She immediately decided to interrupt her travel back home to Kikwit city from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a 500 km trip she had made with her two children. They quickly left the bus.
Lucky enough, she has a friend living in Masi Manimba who offered her accommodation for the night. Mboma looked for the vaccination centre.
Her son, Christophe, had just turned 6 months, the right age for the measles shot. Daughter Blessings is 2 years old, but she had not yet been vaccinated. Both children are at high risk if not vaccinated, especially because the world's largest and fastest-moving measles outbreak is being battled currently in every one of the country's 26 provinces.
'They are not vaccinated because every time I took them to the clinic, I was told the vaccine is not available,' Mboma says while standing in line with dozens of other parents for vaccination at the Lukula Health Centre.
Mboma acted quickly to get her children vaccinated because she is aware of the serious measles epidemic gripping the country. To date, the number of suspected cases has gone beyond 183 837 (5 989 confirmed), with 2 667 deaths, nearly all of them children.
'I know families whose children got very sick in my village. I have just been lucky, and I am really happy that my children were vaccinated today,' she says.
This vaccination campaign is the third emergency intervention jointly organized this year by the Government with the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, targeting nearly 825 000 children aged 6-59 months.
The campaign is funded by the United Nations Humanitarian Pooled Fund, with a contribution from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies.
'There are various reasons why children are not getting the measles vaccine,' explains Helen Nyenge, a WHO epidemiologist who is monitoring the campaign in Masi Manimba. 'Sometimes, parents fail to the take them to clinics, as recommended by the vaccination calendar. But also, sometimes the vaccines aren't available.'
For Mboma, who repeatedly had experienced the lack of vaccine where she lives, a bus ride home became a lucky ticket to relief from her measles worries. She joined thousands of parents who this week took their children to health centres around the country for the vaccination campaign.