Monday, February 6, 2017

Vaccine Flight

Many of the villages we fly to every day can be reached by other modes of transportation, however it's typically a combination of both boat and car or moto. A trip like this is expensive, dangerous, and quite time consuming. We know of two villages that are only 15 miles apart, but it can take up to a full day of travel to go through the deteriorated jungle trails on a motorcycle. 

Every couple of months, we partner with a local doctor to deliver vaccines to some isolated clinics in the interior of the Congo. I was able to go on this most recent trip where on the first day we landed at 6 villages. On the second day, we delivered to 4 more villages. And on the third day, we offloaded vaccines at 3 more destinations.

One of the other pilots who was on the trip with me.
Visiting these 13 villages using a method other than an airplane would have taken several weeks to accomplish. Also consider that most of the medicines we were transporting require a "cold chain," or constant refrigeration, and it would have been an impossible trip without the small aircraft. The medication would have gone bad.

Over a ton of medications, syringes, and other
miscellaneous medical supplies
Every day, we would begin at our home airport and load roughly 1,000 kilos (2,200 lbs) of medications, syringes, and medical supplies in to the airplane. After making our rounds, we would return to Ndolo and prepare the airplane for the next day.

Everything loaded and ready to go
All in all, over 3 days of travel, we were able to deliver 5.5 tons of vaccines to fight Polio, yellow fever, pneumococcus, and a few other diseases.

Unloading the supplies
In Kinshasa, we see the effects of Polio every day driving down the street. We also recently had a yellow fever outbreak that we helped combat. These are not vaccines of convenience, or something to do just in case. There is no "herd immunity" such as we have in developed countries. If children, pregnant women, or the rest of the population are not vaccinated, it is nearly a certainty there will be an epidemic and many, many people will become disabled (which is worse than death in an unforgiving place like the jungle) or die. 

Unloaded much needed supplies
These vaccine runs are just an example of many vital flights we are able to accomplish with small aircraft because of our love for the isolated people of Congo.

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