Wednesday, October 7, 2020

"Measles in DR Congo: By air, boat and foot to deliver the vaccine."

Sounds like a cross between a triathlon and 1925's Alaska Diphtheria Serum Run, sled dogs crossing 674 miles of wilderness in 5 1/2 days.

Be that as it may be, this is quite a story of folks getting the job done.

From the BBC, October 5:

For the past two years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been grappling with the world's worst outbreak of measles, which has killed more than 7,000 children. The minister of health says the outbreak is over but experts say that with a relatively low rate of vaccination - just 60% - it is just a matter of time before there is another. Journalist Sara Assarsson and photographer Johannes Tegner meet the health workers going to great lengths delivering these vital but delicate supplies:

Though you would not know it from his spotless shoes, Mulalu Lwesso often walks for up to six hours delivering vaccines to a rural health facility.

"I started studying nursing but couldn't afford to complete my education - now I help out where it's needed. It's a long walk and I'm getting old. I've walked this route every month since 1987," he says.

The 62-year-old makes the same journey from a hospital in the town of Mwenga - wiping his forehead, slinging the coolbox over his shoulder and heading back to his home village with vaccine capsules, syringes and other supplies in tow.

Other methods of transport can pose challenges. Lorries can get stranded for days, even weeks, when heavy rains turn dirt roads into muddy fields. DR Congo, a country two-thirds the size of Western Europe, has just over 2,000km (1,250 miles) of paved roads.

Vaccines are heat-sensitive and become less efficient if exposed to high temperatures....