WHO, UNICEF vaccinate thousands in Aweil East County
By Charles Lotara
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have vaccinated over 940,000 children aged 6 to 59 months against measles in Aweil East County of Northern Bahr-el-Gazaal State to curb the transmission in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to WHO South Sudan statement on the official website, the vaccination exercise followed the reported cases of measles in a number of counties in January this year.
The twelve-day campaign, which commenced on 22 June to 3 July 2020 was organized and led by the Ministry of Health with support from WHO and UNICEF using facility-based services to reach all eligible children regardless of their geographical locations.
The campaign was implemented within the national and WHO guidelines for implementing mass vaccination campaigns in light of the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan stressed the importance of vaccination in enhancing the survival of vulnerable children.
“Strengthening routine immunization would interrupt the spread of the disease and enhance the survival of vulnerable children,” he said. “The commitment of health teams to reach as many children as possible in difficult circumstances is really to be commended,” Olu added.
The humanitarian and health groups say, South Sudan is among the countries experiencing an upsurge of measles cases revealing that since the beginning of 2020, measles outbreaks have been confirmed in five counties and one Protection of Civilian sites housing displaced populations, affecting a total of 694 children and claiming at least seven lives with a case fatality rate of 1 percent.
In South Sudan, the organizations note, vaccinating children has never been harder, however, as insecurity and displacement made the logistical arrangement overwhelming. Vaccinators also struggled with impossible burdens to find every child of the displaced families scattered in hard-to-reach areas.
WHO, together with the Ministry of Health and partners, has scaled-up its support to immunization programmes by providing financial and logistical support.
The measles vaccination campaign led by the Government of South Sudan is supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO, UNICEF and other partners.