Merlin’s Emergency DRC Vaccination Response
Merlin has helped vaccinate more than one million children against measles over just one week across seven provinces in North Kivu, DR Congo. In a country where health systems are weak, sadly people often die from easily preventable diseases such as measles. Vaccination programs can greatly improve the health of vulnerable people and help tackle the spread of deadly diseases.
“Measles kills, especially amidst insecurity. But this can and must be avoided,” said Dr. Félix Kabange Numbi, Minister of Public Health in DR Congo. “We know that vaccinations can save children’s lives.”
Since the Goma conflict flared up in November last year, people’s lives, especially those of children have been at great risk. People have been forced to flee their homes, often without any food or money. To make matters worse, diseases such as measles, diarrhea, flu and malaria have spread quickly throughout North Kivu taking the lives of many.
According to UNICEF, measles outbreaks were reported in all 11 provinces of the DR Congo and over 2,000 children died from the disease in 2012. The fighting in 2012 caused measles cases to be six times higher than the previous year.
Determined and undaunted since the beginning of the crisis, Merlin worked fast to set up mobile health clinics in camps providing life-saving care for internally displaced people. Each day, Merlin health workers have been treating up to 170 patients for diseases such as malaria, diarrhea and respiratory infections in DR Congo. We are also screening and treating children for malnutrition.
Without your help, we wouldn't have been able to give the urgent emergency vaccination that thousands of people in DR Congo need. Your help will save lives. To help us ensure vulnerable people in DR Congo are protected from preventable diseases.
Emergencies come in many different guises whether a large-scale earthquake or a localized disease outbreak, each one is catastrophic to those involved. The quicker we can react to them, the more lives we can save and the less far-reaching the consequences. Merlin’s Emergency Response Fund means that we can respond as soon as the disaster happens or as soon as the crisis is detected, reaching those people most in need and often before the crisis peaks. In the meantime, we can develop strong proposals for institutional and private grants and launch public fundraising appeals. These subsequent funds can be used to deliver long-term emergency and recovery programs.
- On average, over 258 million people are affected by natural disasters worldwide every year.
- In the last decade, more than two million children have died, over six million have been seriously injured and more than one million children have been orphaned or separated from their families as a direct result of armed conflict.
- More than one third of child deaths worldwide are attributed to under-nutrition.
- 25,000 people die every day from hunger and related causes.
- In 2008, 354 natural disasters were recorded: as a result, more than 235,000 people were killed, 214 million people were affected and total economic costs were over $190 billion.
- Five million people have been affected by biological /disease outbreaks in the past ten years, and over 48,000 have been killed.
- In 2011, 24.7 million people were affected by drought, over 20 million of them in Africa.
Although huge natural disasters are normally thought of as large-scale events in terms of international media coverage and humanitarian response, it is in fact the smaller ‘everyday’ hazards, such as seasonal flooding or cyclical outbreaks of communicable disease - localized events that do not usually capture international attention, but nevertheless overwhelm people’s capacity to cope and respond – that predominate. In 2012, the emergencies have been silent, less publicised and not as acute as in previous years, but they have still been happening, and Merlin has been responding to them.
In 2012 the Emergency Response Fund has been used successfully for the following crises:
Providing essential support during a Malaria Epidemic in Saramabila, the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 2012:
- 7,706 malaria patients were provided with immediate health care.
- 150 children received life-saving blood transfusions.
- 668 pregnant women were protected from malaria using drug treatment.
- 3,441 children under five received anti-malarial medicines to protect them from the disease
Provision of Emergency Nutrition and Health Services for vulnerable communities affected by the Sahel Food Crisis in Chad, March 2012:
Merlin established an emergency program in Chad, aimed to increase access to free primary health care and nutritional services for young children and pregnant / breastfeeding women. It will also help to improve the capacity of local authorities and organizations to respond to future disease outbreaks.
By arriving in country early on, Merlin began to alleviate the stress on a high-risk malnourished population before the arrival of the peak malnutrition season. It gave us a crucial window of opportunity to save lives, reduce suffering and reinforce the coping mechanisms of those most affected, before that peak was reached.
Emergency Response to the Monsoon Flooding in Southwest Philippines, August 2012:
- Implementation of a medical response in Evacuation Centers and affected communities for over 3,000 people.
- Health education and hygiene promotion in Evacuation Centers and communities for 1,350 individuals.
- Provision of medicines to local government-organized health clinics for ~30,000 people.
- Distribution of hygiene kits to 500 families (approx. 2,500 people).
- Distribution of blankets to 150 families in the Evacuation Centers.
Emergency Response for people displaced by conflict on the Sudan-South Sudan Border, September 2012:
- Providing trained health workers to GOAL-supported health facilities in Maban County.
- Sourcing and distributing Non Food Items (NFIs) and medical supplies to GOAL’s storage facilities in Maban, having first fully assessed the need and level required.
- Installing a medical expert with nutritional expertise to deliver essential healthcare and to train other health workers and medical personnel, building resilience and capacity.
- Training staff at Bunj County Hospital on efficient referral processes, ensuring only those with high needs occupy inpatient beds and those who require urgent care are able to access it.
Thank you for your support.
Merlin’s Emergency Response Fund enables immediate reactions, to reach those in need once an emergency has hit. The Fund also means that for slower, more persistent disasters, the fund allows us the money to respond earlier: we do not have to rely on media interest to raise public donations or government funding to activate a response. This gives us a vital window of opportunity to react before the problem reaches its peak, which in turn, saves lives.
Our Emergency Response Team and our already present field teams support this Fund initiative. They know that is means they can deliver aid, where it is needed most, straight away, without having to wait for or be part of further fundraising activities. They are allowed to focus on what they do best, offering humanitarian aid and health care.
Over the last 18 months the Emergency Response Fund has been used successfully for the following crises:
Refugee Crisis on Liberia-Ivory Coast border, March 2011
Refugee Crisis on Libya-Tunisia Border, May 2011
Tropical Storm Washi in the Philippines, Dec 2011
Sahel Food Crisis, Hadjer Lamis, Chad, March 2012
Malaria outbreak in south Maniema, DRC, April 2012
Monsoon Flooding in SW Philippines, August 2012.
Here is just a little more information about a few of the emergencies where the MERF has been used:
In April this year there was a malaria outbreak across ten different districts of Saramabila, south Maniema, in the DRCongo. Using money from the Emergency Response Fund, Merlin responded immediately, working alongside the Ministry of Health, to order and deliver mosquito nets, anti-malarial medicines and essential medical supplies to the affected areas.
Although a relatively large emergency, the outbreak did not register with the international media. Merlin treated:
- over 7,700 patients,
- provided blood transfusions for150 children,
- distributed mosquito nets to over 660 pregnant women and more than 3,340 children under five years old.
By March, failed harvests, drought and escalating food prices had placed over 13.3 million people at risk of severe malnutrition in west Africa. Following a needs-assessment, Merlin decided to intervene in Chad, a country where we have had no prior presence but where conditions were rapidly deteriorating. $42,000 from the Emergency Response Fund was spent, employing a quick phase intervention to assist malnourished children in the Hadjer Lamis region.
By responding effectively and efficiently, Merlin helped to alleviate malnutrition rates before the peak in the “hunger gap” arrived in June & July, setting up and running health teams and nutrition clinics several months before.
Devastating floods have hit the Philippines twice in less than a year. Storm Washi hit the islands of Mindanao late in 2011 and currently a cyclone and storms continue to batter the main island of Luzon and the area around the capital Manila. Using the Emergency Fund meant that down payments for stock could be made, before most donations were received. Funds have been spent on supplies for thousands of hygiene kits distributed to families who have abandoned their home, medicines for local health clinics and bandages and other medical materials.
Thank you for supporting the purchase of emergency supplies for immediate use. If you were thinking of supporting of Merlin again, tomorrow (June 13th) would be a great day to do it. Those lovely people at Global Giving will give an additional 40% on donations. So a $20 donation from you, is actually a $28 gift to Merlin.
PS. Please think about giving your donation early in the day, they only have $75,000 to give away.
Nigel Young - Head of the Emergency Response Team, went to visit Merlin's team in Chad, who have set up primary health and nutrition services to combat against the food crisis that has spread across the entire Sahel Region of west Africa.
Your gift meant that we had medicenes and supplies ready for use, so our staff were able to offer health care immediately, while setting up semi-permanent health clinics and a therapuetic feeding center for longer and, or more indepth medical care.
Monday: It's a big week for Merlin's response team. After three months of leg-work in London and Chad, we are about to hand over to the regional management team there. I am flying from Heathrow to N'Djamena, the capital city of Chad, to check all is well before the handover. To make the most of my trip, I am travelling via Amman and Addis Ababa, so I can catch up with the team in Ethiopia.
Tuesday: I fly from Addis Ababa to N'Djamena, where I am pleasantly surprised to find the visa arrangements go like clockwork. I travel to the office to say hello to the team, who have been working in the punishing 40C heat without any air conditioning. Then it is off to a UN meeting on the Consolidated Appeals Process, used by aid organisations to plan and implement their activities. This is all conducted in French, but I pick up roughly half of what is said.
Wednesday: My first day in the field is a visit to Massakory, a three-hour drive from N'Djamena, where I meet the governor of the province. I look over a couple of clinics and the field hospital, where Merlin is setting up a stabilisation centre to treat malnourished children in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. Everything is pretty much on track after the painfully slow process of getting donors' contracts signed.
Thursday: I visit the great and good in N'Djamena to gain an understanding of their concerns and, I hope, to allay a few of them. One difficulty with finding funding for Chad is that the food crisis is a slow burner. There is no one trigger event, so it is hard to get media attention that is unrelated to the jubilee, Euro 2012 or the Olympics.
Friday: The idea is to be on the plane for the 18-hour flight home, but there is a dust storm at the airport and the flight is delayed. Chad is different from many of the countries I have visited. On the surface there is visible wealth, but underneath that gloss the poverty is severe. We have been a bit slower than we would have liked and have lost two or three weeks navigating the bureaucracy, but considering this is our first time here we have done well.
Your gift ensures that we can pre-prepare emergency supplies for immediate use when there is an emergency situation. Such a situation happened when Merlin decided to send an emergency response team in to Chad (central Africa).
Merlin’s Emergency Team Respond
Merlin’s motto could be ‘ready to respond to all situations’. An Emergency Response Team has been sent to Chad (within the Sahel region of central Africa), to help feed and care for vulnerable families living in remote communities.
Chronic food insecurity has swept across the Sahel region of Africa. More than 15 million people are facing food shortages and over one million children area at risk of severe, acute malnutrition. Low rainfall during 2011, compounded by attacks on crops by birds and locusts, has led to a serious shortage in crops, a lack of pasture and low water levels. The situation continues to get worse and with a peak in food insecurity and malnutrition rates forecast to hit by July 2012
In March 2012, Merlin teams carried out assessments in Chad, to determine health needs and design the most effective response possible. After reviewing the results, an emergency health and nutrition program response was launched immediately using supplies and materials already stocked, which were ready to be used in emergencysituations.
Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. Ranked 183 out of 187 on the Health Development Index, one infive children die before their fifth birthday and the average life expectancy is only 46 years. Currently, 3.6 million people are in danger of having no food what so ever – the vast majority of these are children.
Merlin is responding now, to make the most of a small window of opportunity to save lives – experts believe withouthelp deaths will soar from July onwards. This is why Merlin always needs to be prepared, our experience fromsimilar emergencies - such as the ongoing East Africa Food Crisis – because, unfortunately, media and public response often comes when it is already too late. By reacting now, we can prevent deaths. We aim to stop children becoming malnourished, rather than responding later, once thousands more children have severe, acute malnourishment and hundreds more have died.
Caring for over 250,000 - This emergency response will focus on providing life-saving health and nutritional care for over 40,000 pregnant women, new mothers and children under five. It will also benefit local populations of over 273,000 people.
Merlin’s planned activities
Merlin has implemented an integrated emergency health and nutrition program in the Hadjer Lamis region of western Chad.
This area has huge needs and not has been receiving aid from other INGOs. The critical threshold rate of 15% for Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) has been reached, and families are exposed to communicable disease outbreaks due to their proximity to Lake Chad and dense populations.
Merlin’s activities include
On behalf of all those we care for and everyone at Merlin, thank you for your support.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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