1. Measles in sub-Saharan Africa
In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, three countries south of the Sahara in Africa—the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR)—endured some of the largest measles outbreaks in the world in 2020.
Measles is a preventable disease, due to a safe and effective vaccine. But in remote rural communities, long distances between villages and the nearest health services mean preventable but highly contagious diseases like measles can spread fast.
There are also huge logistical challenges getting vaccines to where they are needed, and keeping them refrigerated at the right temperature. Local health centres often lack capacity and supplies to treat severe measles cases.
In 2020, preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 created further barriers for people in DRC, Chad and CAR to access medical care, and threatened to jeopardise lifesaving measles vaccination campaigns. MSF supported local health authorities with epidemiological responses and medical treatment for patients, and considered a door-to-door vaccination strategy (vaccinating people in their homes).