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MSF vaccinates 3,700 children against measles in Luau

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In the beginning of August, MSF conducted an exploration mission in the eastern region of Angola between Luena and Luau, in Moxico Province. Luau is a town at the border with Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) with a population of about 15,000 people and the region houses many returnees from Kissenge Refugee Camp in DRC.

"During our assessment we found several cases of measles in and around Luau and even some deaths," explained Kostas Moschochoritis, Operational Coordinator for MSF in Belgium. "We had to act swiftly to prevent the outbreak of a measles epidemic."

In the space of one week, MSF vaccinated around 3,700 children in town of Luau and surrounding villages. The children in the villages along the road between Luau and Luena have also been vaccinated, since there were a number of cases reported there.

This is part of a continuing action by MSF to protect the health of the malnourished Angolan population from the probable deadly consequences should a measles outbreak occur. On July 26, MSF reported on the 47,303 measles vaccinations the organisation had provided in Angola since April 4. Mesles outbreaks can be highly lethal in weakened populations.

"We also have other programs running in the region," said Kostas. "The measles vaccination campaign was only a small part of the work we're doing there. We support many health posts and try to deal with the situation of the returnees, now the war (in Angola) has ended."

For the moment the emergency intervention in Angola is MSF's largest operation, mainly because of the ongoing food crisis. The organisation is active in 11 of the 18 provinces with; both therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres; support to local hospitals or other health structures; and vaccination campaigns against measles.