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Nya Thor, 2 years old, has been admitted to the paediatric ward of the MSF hospital in Old Fangak, Jonglei State. She is suffering from malaria and malnutrition and was referred to the hospital from her village by the MSF boat ambulance.

MSF urges for a major shift in humanitarian aid delivery as South Sudan faces recurring deadly epidemic outbreaks


Malnutrition rises and more people are exposed to fatal disease outbreaks,
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) advocates for closer partnerships among humanitarian actors
in South Sudan to avoid preventable deaths.
One out of every ten children in South Sudan dies before five years old, mostly from
preventable diseases. More than 75 percent of these deaths are caused by malaria, diarrhea, or
pneumonia. Meanwhile, the current country’s high levels of malnutrition contribute to high
mortality rates among children under 5. Approximately 1.65 million of those children are
acutely malnourished.
“Children affected by malnutrition are at a higher risk of dying from preventable-vaccine
diseases, including meningitis, measles, yellow fever, cholera and malaria”, says Dr. Jatinder
Singh, MSF Medical Coordinator in South Sudan.
The latest Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC) report found that
56% of the population is currently facing acute food insecurity, classed as crisis or worse.
“Malnutrition lowers immunity, making diseases easier to catch. It’s even worse for children
living in refugee and internally displaced camps where contagious diseases spread due to
malnutrition, overcrowding, and poor water and sanitation.” continues Dr. Singh.
More than 700,000 people have crossed the border since the Sudan Civil War began. Also, 1.5
million South Sudanese live in internally displaced camps due to recurring floods and internal
conflicts. Forced displacement may result in incomplete of routine vaccinations, putting both
the displaced and host populations at risk. Mass immunization campaigns in transit centers and
camps are required to prevent the spread of contagious diseases while reducing future
administrative and logistical costs.
If widely and well implemented, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) launched by the
World Health Program (WHO), could be a game changer for South Sudan. Evidence shows that
increased vaccination coverage protects children from vaccine-preventable diseases while also
contributing to a lower rate of malnutrition. This is the reason why MSF supports the Ministry
of Health in conducting large-scale vaccination campaigns building long-term immunity among
communities. To boost coverage, the Expanded Immunization Program (EPI) should integrate
vaccinations into complimentary health activities such as nutrition services and sensitization
sessions. Effective coordination among health partners is needed, as well as a close
collaboration with other critical sectors such as nutrition, food security, and water sanitation
and hygiene. These include collecting, analyzing, and acting on disease and nutritional
surveillance data, ensuring nutritional services, providing health services, and reducing barriers
to accessing care.
“We must increase efforts to make sure that all children have access to life saving vaccines.
Investing in large-scale preventable-vaccines campaigns for all children can save money, time
and lives. By working together with the Ministry of Health and humanitarian actors, we can
prevent and respond more effectively to diseases outbreaks.” said Zakaria Mwatia, MSF Head
of Mission in South Sudan.

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