MSF starts vaccination campaign in Fizi, DRC

Baraka - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started to vaccinate approximately 35,000 children and 5,000 pregnant women in the Fizi territory, on Lake Tanganyika in South Kivu province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The accelerated vaccination campaign covers all 34 so-called 'aires de santé' of the Fizi health zone, including hard to access areas such as the Ubwari peninsula and the Hautx Plateaux region of Fizi. MSF teams on bicycles, motorbikes and boats are inoculating close to 35,000 children between birth and 15 years against all routine antigens, with children older than five years receiving protection against measles. Up to 5,000 women are receiving anti-malaria prophylaxis. 'The campaign is needed to improve the general health status in the health zone which has been neglected over the years', says Lorena Bilbao, the project coordinator in Baraka. The campaign has been initiated by MSF to complement the gaps in the coverage of the routine vaccination campaign that started in 2004. So far, 23% of children had been vaccinated against measles and only 9% against diphteria, whooping cough and tetanus. MSF expects to complete the first phase of the campaign by mid-March; the second and third phase will follow shortly after. The campaign is organized in close collaboration with the local and provincial medical authorities, as well as UNICEF.