from RAJI BASHIR in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM, (CAJ News) – CONFLICT-torn South Sudan has embarked on a massive vaccination exercise to curb an unprecedented outbreak of measles that has killed at least 26 children.
The outbreak has been raging since January last year.
More than 4 700 cases of the disease have been confirmed.
The campaign is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, the Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners.
“We need to boost the vaccination coverage to protect children against measles outbreaks,” said Dr Makur Matur Kariom, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health.
In South Sudan, routine vaccination coverage against measles remains low at only 59 percent.
“That means many children in our country are not protected against the disease. Hence the importance of this vaccination campaign (South Sudan) cannot be over-emphasised,” Kariom said.
Large proportions of the children are in hard to reach areas, which also results in low vaccination coverage but partners have planned to reach all minors.
“Every child has the same right to health and no child is too far,” Mohamed Ayoya, the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, said.
In addition to the vaccine, the children will also receive vitamin A supplement and deworming tablets.
The measles virus is highly infectious.
Besides death, it can cause rashes, eye infection, respiratory infections and diarrhea.
The disease outbreak comes in the midst of the civil war in South Sudan, the world’s newest country.
It gained independence in 2011 but spilled into conflict two years later after its liberators fell out over an alleged coup plot.
– CAJ News