With the measles epidemic in decline, the meningitis epidemic over, and nutritional screening failing to highlight alarming rates, the emergency mission will soon be terminating for MSF's team there. Still, bags are not yet packed and treatment of measles patients and undernourished children continues.
Two months after the mission was launched, Marcella Allheimen, Emergency Co-ordinator, sees some positive signs: "We are seeing a reduction in the number of case of measles precisely where we vaccinated at the beginning of the campaign. We started with the worst hit places and it's there that we are today observing the largest decreases."
Measles is one of the main causes of child death in Africa. The World Health Organisation supports routine vaccination programmes but still does not recommend massive vaccinations once an epidemic has broken out. MSF experience, and several scientific studies, indicate that measle epidemics remain frequent, and that a vaccination campaign in the epidemic period limits both the number of cases and deaths. More than 300,000 people were also vaccinated in Niger in March and April, and double that figure will be vaccinated from the start of July, in Katanga province (Democratic Republic of Congo).