More than 44,000 children in South Sudan vaccinated against measles

April 20, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Colin Crowley/Save the Children

 

By

Peter Louis

Over forty four thousand (44,447) South Sudanese children under the age of five have been vaccinated against measles during a two-week campaign launched by Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit (EHU) in Mayom County, in the conflict affected oil-rich Unity state of South Sudan.

The vaccination campaign was in response to a declaration of a measles outbreak by South Sudan’s Ministry of Health and the UN World Health Organization.

The first suspected cases of measles were reported in early January. Tests on two samples subsequently confirmed the outbreak. During the response, Save the Children worked with 460 Vaccinators in 17 fixed screening centres, and 11 outreach sites to carry out the vaccinations. Children were also screened for malnutrition and Vitamin A deficiencies. The screening results indicated increasing levels for malnutrition among children. During the same campaign, 39,638 children received Vitamin A supplements to boost their immune systems.

Until Save the Children’s latest response, there had been no countywide measles vaccination since 2012. This was largely due to the breakdown in the cold chain system caused by the outbreak of violence and instability in December 2013. This also caused serious access constraints in 2015, which limited the coverage of a routine measles vaccination campaign that had restarted in the war affected counties of Unity state.

Laina Henderson, the Acting Country Director of Save the Children South Sudan expressed delight at the news of the successful vaccination campaign, saying she was “…extremely delighted at the fact that we were able to bring life-saving vaccination to thousands of children who would otherwise have been exposed to the highly infectious and deadly disease.” Ms. Laina added that it was her organization’s core mandate, and responsibility to ensure that the hardest to reach and poorest children get access to vaccines and other life-saving services.

“Available scientific evidence has proved time and again that children who get vaccinated against the most common childhood diseases often have a much better chance of surviving past their fifth birthday. As Save the Children, we shall continue doing everything within our power to ensure that we save the lives of vulnerable South Sudanese children who have already undergone immense suffering due to the prolonged conflict” Ms. Henderson said.

 

 

 

 

 

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Peter Louis

Peter Louis works as a freelance Videographer and Journalist in the Republic of South Sudan. He previously worked for Ebony TV, South Sudan Radio and South Sudan TV, Wau.

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