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Measles campaign to kick off in Aweil

By Hou Akot Hou

The Ministry of health of Northern Bahre El GHazal is launching a measles vaccination for all children in the State.

Peter Mou, the Aweil East County Health Officer said that they have trained more than 400 vaccinators to go out and vaccinate.

“The measles is a killer disease so we have trained the vaccinators to go out and vaccinate the children ranging fro 59 months to five years” He said

Mou said that this year alone more than 40 children have died as a result of the measle infection in Northern Bahre El Gazal and that is why the World Health Organization(WHO) and children Agency, UNICEF, are collaborating with the national ministry of health to curb the disease in spreading.

He said the vaccinators will work for one week to vaccinate the children.

“Measles makes rashes in the body, eyes itch and causes difficulty in breathing and if not people are serious it kills quickly” He said.

Mou appealed to the mothers to avail their children for vaccination.

“I am appealing to the mothers to stay at homes and not to go and run after survival strategy and leave their children unvaccinated. These vaccines are essential and they are free. So kindly cease this opportunity to bring your children to the centers of the vaccination” He requested.

Earlier, The Ministry of Health, South Sudan, in partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, WHO and other key partners, has launched a nationwide measles vaccination campaign. The campaign aims to vaccinate more than 2.7 million children aged 6-59 months against the highly infectious disease.

The launch of the measles vaccination campaign highlights South Sudan’s resilience in rolling out immunization campaigns despite competing health priorities including recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus and occurs seasonally in endemic areas. Among malnourished children and immunocompromised people, measles can also cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection, and pneumonia. Measles outbreaks are particularly dangerous in countries like South Sudan, where malnutrition and weakened immune systems make children more vulnerable.

The national vaccination campaign is a timely response to the recent outbreaks the country has been witnessing following pandemic-related declines in measles vaccination coverage.  According to WHO figures, between January 2022 and 1 February 2023, health authorities in South Sudan reported an outbreak of measles, with over 4,000-suspected cases and 46 deaths across the country. The country has conducted several outbreak responses campaigns to help mitigate public health impact, and this nationwide push is vital because 95% coverage is required to curb transmission.

The campaign will use a combination of fixed and outreach vaccination sites, with a focus on reaching children in remote areas. It will also include community mobilization activities to raise awareness of the importance of measles vaccination. In readiness for the campaign, the Ministry of Health has worked to build capacities of community health workers, not only to roll out the vaccination but also serve to curb vaccine hesitance and increase community awareness.

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