Despite immunisation programmes, measles remains a significant public health problem in many countries. While developed countries still have occasional outbreaks, it is in low-income countries that the virus continues to cause recurrent large-scale epidemics with very high death tolls, especially among children.
Inadequate access to health care and the decline in expanded programmes on immunisation and their funding are responsible for numerous missed opportunities to vaccinate. In addition, conflict-generated population displacements and epidemiological surveillance failures contribute to the continued spread of the virus and the resurgence of outbreaks in developing countries.
This guide is intended for medical and non-medical personnel involved in monitoring and managing epidemics at every level of the health care system. We have tried to respond in the most practical way possible to the problems faced by staff, using the recommendations from reference organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the field experience of Médecins Sans Frontières.
This guide is divided into eight chapters dealing with the epidemiology of the disease, immunisation and its impact and the various components of outbreak response. To facilitate comprehension and activity set-up, practical tools – including procedure sheets (measles diagnosis/treatment, vaccine preparation/storage, etc.), sample forms (laboratory tests, donations), Excel files for surveillance, needs estimation (cold chain, treatments, vaccines and medical supplies, etc.) and activity monitoring/evaluation, and a film on the organization of a vaccination campaign – are provided in the Appendices and on the Toolbox.
Despite all efforts, it is possible that certain errors may have been overlooked in this guide. Please inform the authors of any errors detected.
To ensure that this guide continues to evolve while remaining adapted to field realities, please send any comments or suggestions.
As treatment protocols are regularly revised, please check the updates.