A reactive measles campaign is underway in Juba, South Sudan
A reactive measles vaccination campaign targeting 37 390 children aged between 6 months to 14 years is underway this week in Juba County.
The campaign that started on 5 September 2022 is being implemented by the Ministry of Health with support from WHO and partners in Kator, Rajaf payams and two IDP sites in Juba.
The vaccination activities are being conducted at health centers, schools and outreach centers to maximize access to all the vulnerable members of the community. The campaign aims to achieve at least 95 percent coverage to interrupt the ongoing transmission of the measles virus in the county.
Juba county has a history of recurring measles outbreaks with one outbreak confirmed in 2017 and a more recent one in 2019.
The current outbreak started with the initial cases being reported in mid-July 2022 which led to further investigation and confirmation of the outbreak in five payams in Juba County. Since the beginning of the outbreak, 79 measles cases with no deaths have been reported from the five affected payams.
“Measles vaccines are safe and effective, inexpensive and provide long-lasting protection”, said Dr Jamal Hassen, Director General, Ministry of Health Central Equatoria State. “In South Sudan, the Ministry provides routine vaccination services against vaccine preventable diseases for the community free of charge to prevent children against measles”.
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases of humans that is caused by the measles virus. Measles is preventable and can be eliminated by vaccination. Countries are advised to strengthen their routine immunization programmes to reach all the vulnerable children to reduce the illness and death caused by measles. The routine immunization coverage for measles vaccine in Juba was reported to be below 50% during the first half of 2022, which is below than the expected of 95 percent.
“COVID-19 has disrupted immunization programmes around the world, increasing the risk of severe outbreaks”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan. “Vaccine remains the most cost-effective preventive measure against measles. Thanks to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, the ongoing reactive campaign focused on building immunity among over 37 000 children who are vulnerable to measles infections and it’s complications”.
Further to the vaccination campaigns, WHO and partners supported the Ministry of Health to enhance measles surveillance and strengthen case management for measles through refresher training for frontline healthcare workers, surveillance officers, and the state and county rapid response teams.
The Ministry of Health and partners are committed toward restoring and strengthening immunization services across the country.
Mr Julu Louis, Email:louisju [at] who.int
Ms Eva Soro, Email:soroev [at] who.int