humedica participates in large-scale vaccination campaign

by Alexandra Vlantos/LKO,  2013/07/15

The World Health Organisation intends to eradicate the infectious disease polio by 2018, yet two new cases of infantile paralysis in the Horn of Africa currently counteract this intention. The countries of the affected region reacted immediately by launching large-scale vaccination campaigns.

Also the humedica health post in the Ethiopian refugee camp of Melkadida, which is run with the kind support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, participated in the campaign. Apart from the oral polio vaccine, the humedica staff also administered vitamin-A containing vaccines against measles.

More than 1100 children were immunized in this way. Today, our coordinator Alexandra Vlantos, who is currently staying in Melkadida, would like to give you a report on how the measures were carried out on site.

“For the fifth time, I am staying in the refugee camp of Melkadida on the Ethiopian-Somali border as a coordinator. Like many times before, I walk through the humedica health post, seeing well-known faces and observing the familiar environment. Yet today, something is different.

Hundreds of children are coming out of one of the treatment rooms, some of them with tears streaming down their faces. The noise is quite overwhelming. Am I deceived by my own memories? Wasn’t it rather the case that the patients entered the health post in a sick state and left it happy and healthy?

I dare to look through the door of the treatment room. “It tastes like a sweet”, our staffer Mohamed is telling Suldano, dripping two drops of polio vaccine into the little girl’s mouth. Here, the atmosphere is still calm and relaxed. Some of the children even wave and smile at me. It is only further back in the room that I can tell the origin of the noise and confusion.

While our nurse Mafi is preparing syringes with the measles vaccine, humedica staffer Freo vaccinates one child after the other. With a practised hand, he removes the cap of a syringe. Although he is very careful when he slides the needle under the children’s skin, only few eyes stay dry. “Aaaaaaaah”, I can hear for the umpteenth time.

By now I am relieved. The reason for the confusion is not a rough doctor, but the vaccination campaign humedica is carrying out in cooperation with the Ethiopian refugee administration ARRA and UNICEF, the children’s charity of the United Nations.

Refugees who have been trained for this purpose walk through the camp and give the oral polio vaccine to every child. By marking the children’s little finger with a water-proof marker, they make sure that no child receives double treatment.

Afterwards, the parents are asked to come to the humedica health post with their children in order to get the measles vaccination as well. In addition, they are administered Vitamin A, which protects against eye diseases and has a preventive effect against measles as well.

In all, more than 1100 children were vaccinated against polio and measles at the humedica health post in the course of three days and provided with Vitamin A. This is a great success and, at the same time, the result of two years of hard work in the camp.

Looking at the statistics we can see that, at the beginning of this year, only 16 per cent of the children under five years of age had been immunized against measles. For a long time, in spite of the intense information campaigns carried out by our voluntary helpers, many mothers had not shown much interest in immunizing their children.

“My son had a temperature after the first injection”, I was told by a mother about one year ago. In spite of the good explanation given to her, this mother chose not to have her children treated again, although three doses of the vaccine are necessary for a full immunization against measles. The first dose is in vain if now followed by a second and third one.

When the latest campaign was carried out, 90 per cent of the children came back to receive the second dose. The queue in front of our health post seemed never-ending and none of us was ever idle, not even for a minute.

At the end of the third day, we are tired, but when I look at the faces of our staff members, Mohamed, Mafi and Freo, I can see pride and satisfaction. The campaign was a great success.

After intense and continuous awareness campaigns, the families are finally willing to get vaccinated. This shows the importance of a long-term commitment here in Melkadida. And, for me, it is a proof that my numerous aid missions with humedica do make a difference.”

Please continue to support our work in Melkadida with a specific donation and help people who find themselves in need through no fault of their own. Thank you so much!

      humedica e. V.
      Reference "Famine Aid Africa"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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