News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

South Sudan, WHO to vaccinate 2.3m children

Vaccination of children

South Sudan’s ministry of health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners on Friday set an ambitious target to vaccinate no fewer than 2.3 million children against Measles across war-torn South Sudan.

Anthony Laku, Director of Immunisation at the Ministry of Health on Friday said that the repeat vaccination programme is scheduled to start in May for children aged six months and less than five years old.

Laku said that the vaccine programme was aimed at reducing measles outbreaks and also strengthen efforts to eradicate the highly infectious disease by 2020.

He said that children who previously received the vaccine but are less than five years can still be vaccinated to boost their immunity against the disease.

The health ministry said measles outbreaks have been increasing in South Sudan for the past 10 years in spite implementation of a follow up campaign in 2011 to 2013.

Official figures from the health ministry revealed that as of December 2016, there were over 1,130 cases of suspected measles reported across the war-torn East African nation.

“Given the current profile of our country and the situation we are in, this repeat campaign is to stop the outbreaks and give children vaccine.

“After this we have to strengthen routine vaccination so that we meet the global target to end measles by 2020,” Laku said.

According to the WHO, measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads through air and a leading cause of death among young children even though a safe and cost effective vaccine is available.

Complications of measles include diarrhea with risks of developing severe conditions such as eye defects for children under five years.

WHO said in 2015, there were 134,200 measles deaths globally, representing 367 deaths every day or 15 deaths per hour. (Xinhua/NAN)