Chad Measles Vaccination Campaign: Protecting children six months to nine years old to get the country out of the epidemic

Nancy Ndal-lah
18 June 2020

We are in Dourbali, a department of the province of Chari-Baguirmi in Chad. Under the large tree at the corner of the Chief of Canton's house, the vaccination team welcomes small children, mostly accompanied by their elders, all concerned with getting vaccinated.

In this city, the population has been very affected by the epidemic, with more than 500 people affected by measles. Because of this, the population in Dourbali is welcoming to the vaccination campaign, and there has not been much resistance. For the people of Dourbali, there is no question that “Amkignègnè” (the name for measles in local Arabic) would make new victims without the vaccination campaign.

Annour Djidda, a father in his late 30s, approaches the vaccination team with his three children. To see a father bringing his children to receive vaccinations is rather rare in this locality, but for him there is no embarrassment when it comes to the health of his children. “Measles has killed many children in Dourbali. This is why I decided to bring my children to the vaccination myself to protect them," Annour Djidda says.

Despite his work at a bakery that occupies him from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Annour has gotten special permission to personally drive his children to see the healthcare workers and ensure they have received the necessary dose of the measles vaccine.

Measles usually manifests as a rash with a high fever, conjunctivitis, eyelid edema, puffy eyes, runny nose, cough, diarrhea, and vomiting. These complications are responsible for the deaths of many children. Chad has been in a measles epidemic since the end of April 2018. From reporting 5,336 cases of measles in 2018, the number of reported cases in Chad rose to 9,009 in just the first quarter of 2019, with 68 deaths.

To respond to this situation, the Ministry of Public Health—in collaboration with UNICEF and with the technical support of partners such as WHO, MSF, and the Red Cross—launched a vaccination campaign in the nine health districts in the country that were the most affected. This campaign, which took place April 9–15, 2019, made it possible to vaccinate 653,535 children aged six months to nine years old (100 percent coverage), of whom 41,436 had never been vaccinated before. The 10 health districts covered by the campaign were Mongo, Massenya, Aboudeia, Moissala, Pala, Mandelia, Dourbali, Haraze-Manguegne, Koukou, and Tissi.