Since January, 2,200 children have developed measles in Niger, despite the implementation of a national vaccination campaign. MSF has sent medical teams to Zinder and Maradi, the regions with the highest number of measles cases, to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease. A total of 278,000 children have been vaccinated to date. Measles cases began to be reported in the regions of Maradi and Zinder in December 2007. In January government health authorities vaccinated children between nine months and five years of age. Despite the national vaccination campaign, an increasing number of children have become infected with measles, with 2,200 cases recorded nationally between January 1 and March 23. To combat the spread of the disease, MSF teams have begun vaccination campaigns for children between six months and 15 years of age in Zinder and Maradi.
Measles provokes complications in malnourished children
Niger has one of the worst rates of chronic and acute childhood malnutrition in the world. MSF runs nutritional programs in several locations in the regions of Maradi (Maradi, Guidan Roumdji, Dakoro), Zinder (Zinder, Magaria) and Tahoua (Madoua et Bouza). When malnutrition and measles occur together it is extremely serious for young children. Malnutrition weakens the immune response and leaves children more vulnerable to infectious diseases like measles, and children with measles are more susceptible to malnutrition. It is therefore essential to protect children against measles in Niger. MSF has initiated massive vaccination campaigns to prevent the disease from spreading any further.