Campaign for vaccinating 2.5M children against measles kicks off

By: Sheila Ponnie

The nationwide campaign for vaccinating 2.5 million children against measles kicked off yesterday.

The campaign that was spearheaded by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Gavi,- World Health Organization, UNICEF and Vaccine Alliance will target children between the age of 6-59 months.

During the vaccination, vitamin “A” supplementation and deworming would be provided to all vaccinated children.

Speaking during the official launch of the campaign, Minister of Health, Dr. Riak Gai Kok said Measles in South Sudan occurred in over twenty six states but the measles outbreak was worldwide not only in Africa nor South Sudan.

“We lost a number of children as a result of the outbreak. When we want to intervene with the vaccination, we had the fund, we had the logistic and technical support from our partners unfortunately flood could not allow us to implement that must vaccination,” Dr. Kok said.

He said the Ministry of Health and the partners were optimistic they would vaccinate all the 2.5 million children.

Dr. Kok said they have put a plan through the Boma health initiatives to increase health coverage because the coverage was very low due to poor access to health facilities due to crisis in the country.

“With the peace coming because of the formation of the government of national unity, access to the health facilities will be improved significantly and it will enhance our effort to provide the needed services like immunization,” Dr. Kok said.

In 2017, at least 15 children died after health workers vaccinating them against measles used the same syringe without sterilizing it.

Dr. Kok said such incidents would not repeat itself adding that it was a human error.

For his part, the World Health Origination Representative, Dr. Olushayo Olu said the campaign would contribute to the reduction of illnesses and death that come because of measles infections.

“We are committed to support the Ministry of Health to attain over ninety five percent coverage to interrupt the prevalence of this deadly disease virus in South Sudan,” Olu said.

 He said large proportions of targeted population are in hard to reach areas, adding that partners had planned for vaccination posts throughout the country and to areas where access to health services was poor.

UNICEF Representative South Sudan Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya said every child has the same rights to health and no child is too far.

“We know how important immunity is to fight measles and to protect the most vulnerable people that make 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 posts,” Dr. Ayoya said.

The campaign will run in two faces, the first face started yesterday and will cover 70 percent of the counties in the former Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes State, Northern  Bahr El Ghazal, Unity State, Warrap State and Upper Nile while the second face will cover the remaining counties and ends on 17th March. 2020.    

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