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IOM conducts mass cholera vaccination in S. Sudan

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May 13, 2014 (JUBA) – The start of South Sudan’s rainy season has dramatically raised the threat level of waterborne diseases for an estimated 86,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in protection of civilian (PoC) sites in UN bases across the country, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said.

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IOM and partners help Jamam camp residents board buses to Kaya (photo credit: IOM)

“Despite ongoing efforts to improve living conditions at PoC sites, heavy rains coupled with congestion, poor hygiene practices and overburdened sanitation facilities have created conditions ripe for waterborne diseases,” said David Derthick, IOM chief of South Sudan’s mission.

IOM’s Health Unit is reportedly responding to the threat by conducting oral Cholera vaccination campaigns in PoC sites, in close cooperation its health cluster partners.

The first campaign, the organisation said, began on 6 May at the PoC site in Bor, the Jonglei state capital, which hosts an estimated 3,600 IDPs. Some 2,862 IDPs were reportedly vaccinated with the second round of vaccination earmarked to start 20 May.

“Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are at the forefront in preventing both endemic diarrheal diseases and cholera outbreaks, together with intensive health education campaigns conducted through community level volunteers,” said Haley West, IOM’s South Sudan migration health officer.

“Strengthening coordination mechanisms between water, sanitation and hygiene and health cluster partners for harmonized and strong hygiene promotion is crucial", she added.

Cholera vaccination is a safe and effective additional tool that can be used under the right conditions to supplement existing cholera control measures, the official stressed.

Meanwhile, IOM said it was providing primary health care services for IDPs and host communities through clinics located in PoC sites in Upper Nile and Unity state capitals.

It also said it extended mobile health services to the South Sudan-Sudan border area of Wunthou in Upper Nile, where an estimated 13,000 people are currently displaced.

"IOM’s presence as the main health actor in these locations remains as the first line of defence against endemic diseases for thousands of vulnerable IDPs and their host communities", the agency said in a statement.

Violence broke out in the South Sudan capital, Juba in mid-December last year killing thousands with over a million people displaced, according aid agencies in the country.

The United Nations has launched a massive operation to help 3.2 million people, but is reportedly $781 million short of the $1.27 billion urgently needed by mid of this year.

(ST)

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