South Sudan kicked off a nationwide campaign against Measles on 4th February 2020, with the aim of vaccinating 2.5 million children against the deadly childhood disease.
The campaign targets children 6-59 months of age. The children will also be receiving vitamin A supplement and deworming tablets during the campaign. The campaign is jointly supported by the Ministry of Health, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and other partners.
Vaccination is the most effective way to protect children against measles disease and the vaccine is safe. Vitamin A and deworming are crucial for children’s immune system and the ability to fight off diseases in addition to preventing blindness.
South Sudan is a country that still battles with measles disease with an unprecedented measles outbreak, with over 4,700 confirmed cases and 26 deaths since January 2019 to date.
The Undersecretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Makur Matur Kariom said:
“We need to boost the vaccination coverage to protect children against measles outbreaks. Unfortunately, in South Sudan routine vaccination coverage against measles remains low at only 59 per cent. That means many children in our country are not protected against the disease. Hence the importance of this vaccination campaign cannot be over-emphasized”.
The WHO reported that the campaign will run in two phases. The first phase started on the 4th of February, 2020 and will cover almost 70 percent of the counties in the former Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, Warrap and Upper Nile.
The second phase will cover the remaining counties in Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile and end on 17 March 2020.
Eligible children include unvaccinated children and those who received only one dose of the measles vaccine.
Dr. Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative in South Sudan, said regarding the campaign:
“The campaign will contribute to the reduction of illness and death due to measles. The measles virus is highly infectious. It can cause rashes, eye infection, respiratory infections, diarrhea and even death.
“We are committed to support the Ministry of Health to attain over 95 per cent coverage to be able to interrupt the prevalence of this deadly disease virus in South Sudan”.
Also, the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya noted:
“Every child has the same right to health and no child is too far. We know how important herd immunity is to fight measles and protect the most vulnerable people, that makes it even more important to reach the last child with this campaign. There is a lot of love in taking your children to the nearest vaccination post.”