WHO secured over 562 000 doses of oral cholera vaccine for pre-emptive campaigns in South Sudan in 2018

Juba, 19 July 2018 – To mitigate the risk of cholera outbreaks in cholera transmission hotspots in South Sudan, the World Health Organization (WHO) secured over 562 000 doses of  oral cholera vaccine in 2018  to conduct pre-emptive campaigns.

The  466 460  doses of oral cholera vaccine (OCV) received from the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) in 2018 are  for a 2-dose mass vaccination campaign in Torit, Yirol East, Yirol West and Panyijiar. 

On 4 July 2018, the International Coordinating Group (ICG) released 96 285 doses of OCV for the second round of the vaccination campaign in Leer.

The vaccination campaign aims to mitigate the risk of cholera outbreaks in cholera transmission hotspots. With support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, over 3.1 million doses of vaccines have been deployed to Maban refugees and host communities, UN House Protection of civilians (PoC), Mingkaman Camp, Bentiu PoC, Malakal PoC, Bor PoC, Wau Shilluk, Melut, Leer County, Juba town since February 2014 as part of prevention and response activities of the deadly diarrheal disease.

“Cholera prevention is a priority in areas that have been mapped as transmission hotspots in South Sudan”, says Dr Wamala Joseph, Epidemiologist at WHO South Sudan.  The OCV campaigns provide protection to the vulnerable population and are used as a bridge for launching sustainable and long-term water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions.

Given the humanitarian crises in South Sudan and the several outbreaks of cholera the country faced in the past, the pre‐emptive mass vaccination campaigns with OCV are being used to complement cholera surveillance, patient care, risk communication, and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene interventions. 

Cholera continues to be a public health threat to children, women, and other vulnerable groups in South Sudan. The recurrent outbreaks since 2014 including the longest and largest (18 June 2016 to 18 December 2017) demonstrate the continued vulnerability of the population to the disease, which is preventable and treatable.

 “Although cholera is endemic in South Sudan, this time WHO and partners in support of the Ministry of Health are better prepared to reduce the risk of cholera outbreak through early targeted interventions”, says Mr Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative a.i. to South Sudan. 

The interventions include pre-emptive OCV campaigns in vulnerable areas, updating cholera contingency plans at both national and state level before the onset of the rainy season, training state level rapid response teams (RRT) across the country and prepositioning diagnostic test kits and lifesaving supplies for managing patients, which have helped to enhance surveillance, while enabling prompt response to suspected cases, Mr Liyosi highlighted. 

The ongoing preventive campaigns in South Sudan have been conducted by WHO, UNICEF, IOM, MSF, MedAir, and other health cluster partners took place in Malakal Town, Malakal protection of civilians (PoC), Aburoc internally displaced population sites (IDPs), Budi county, Wau PoC, Wau IDP sites, Juba, Panyijiar, Leer town, Lankien and Pieri.

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