Following the declaration of measles outbreak in Abyei Special Administrative Area by the State Ministry of Health, Save the Children along with other health partners has supported the Ministry of Health in developing a micro plan and mobilizing resources. The measles vaccination campaign was launched on 23 January 2019 for seven days. The vaccination campaign targeted children 6-59 months in the entire Abyei administrative area. A total of 33 vaccination teams were trained and deployed in the field. The exercise was originally planned to take 4 days but extended for another 3 days due to logistical challenges and delay in securing security clearance from UNSFA.
By the first week of Feb 2019, according to the Ministry of Health, a cumulative 192 cases of measles have been reported since the outbreak started. As part of the response to curb the transmission, Save the Children in collaboration with the state health and other partners (WHO, GOAL, MSF and the Organization for Children Harmony – TOCH) supported vaccination of 13,378 children aged 6-59 months out of a target of 15,205. This represents 83 percent coverage. Five villages in Abyei County could not be reached due to security concerns.
Since the last vaccination in Abyei was in May, 2017, the suspected measles cases in the area are deeply concerning, and puts children at risk especially those in remote areas without health facilities, said Dr. Isa Musulo, Save the Children Health Manager in Abyei. More effort needs to go into increasing routine immunization coverage and strengthening health systems
Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can cause debilitating or fatal complications, including encephalitis (an infection that leads to swelling of the brain), severe diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent vision loss. Young children with malnutrition and weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable to complications and death.
Save the Children is supporting ten facilities in Abyei with health and nutrition services including routine vaccinations and is calling for increased investment in health system strengthening. These efforts should focus on reaching the poorest and the most marginalized communities.
We plan to conduct a mop up vaccination exercise in the hard to reach areas that were not covered and discuss with the Health Cluster at national level possibility of vaccinating 5-15 years of age group. Plans are underway to step up routine vaccination through static and outreach campaigns.
Note to Editors
Save the Children has been working in South Sudan for 30 years, and directly implements programmes in 7 of the 10 former States. We work to ensure that children in the world’s newest nation have the right to survive, be protected, and have access to basic quality education.
With support from European Union we are implementing life-saving health and nutrition interventions for a population of about 80,000 people in Abyei. We are providing free lifesaving primary healthcare services whilst, nutrition, food security and livelihood. We strengthen the capacity of the local health system to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks of common epidemic prone diseases.
In Abyei we have reached 115, 870 people (48,935 children and 66,935 Adults) with lifesaving services including health Nutrition and livelihood. Our health and nutrition program reached 53,002 people as of December 2018.
Source: Save the Children