Polio Vaccination Campaign Reaches 26,000 Children in South Sudan
IOM’S Rapid Response Teams in South Sudan have completed a mass polio vaccination campaign.
The campaign was carried out in coordination with the Renk Department of Health, Upper Nile State between February 5th and 8th, and immunized 26,114 children under the age of 15.
“Our rapid response teams provide health care services in hard to reach areas of South Sudan,” said Haley West IOM South Sudan’s health programme manager. “Most of these communities may not have had access to care for weeks or even months. This vaccination campaign is a great step in ensuring the children and the country are not at risk from possible future polio outbreaks.”
According to the World Health Organization, South Sudan had been polio-free for more than five years. But two cases of polio at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Unity state were confirmed in September last year.
The displacement of more than 1.8 million people in South Sudan has hampered access to adequate health care and referral services throughout the country.
Conflict affected states, such as Upper Nile, are severely affected by the crisis, as primary and secondary health care facilities were either destroyed during fighting or simply are not available. As a result many children remain under-immunized against polio and other preventable childhood diseases.
Renk County Health Director Chol Ayiik applauded the IOM health team’s efforts to support the mass immunization campaign.
“Challenges are many in South Sudan, but with the support of IOM’s Rapid Response Teams we were able to go to the greatest extent possible to ensure that all children received the second dose of the oral polio vaccine,” he noted.
In December 2014, IOM’s Rapid Response Team conducted the first round of a polio and measles campaign, vaccinating more than 29,135 children against polio and 27,195 children between 6 months and 15 years for measles.
In the past week IOM teams also reached more than 14,860 children with de-worming medication. Intestinal parasitism – also a preventable condition – is directly associated with malnutrition among children.
The rapid response mechanism allows IOM to provide lifesaving humanitarian response in hard-to-reach locations. IOM’s multi-sector teams have been deployed to more than 15 locations throughout the country and have provided emergency distribution of non-food relief items, water and sanitation services and access to basic health care and prevention services.