September 20, 2016 (JUBA) - Over 23,000 people were vaccinated against cholera in the South Sudan capital, Juba, between 17–20 September, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
- A child receives an oral cholera vaccine dose in the South Sudan capital, Juba (Medair Photo)
The vaccination campaign, the agency said in a statement, aims to mitigate the spread of cholera in South Sudan’s capital, where the UN and the Ministry of Health have reported nearly 1,800 cholera cases and 12 related deaths since July.
"The campaign, funded by the Government of Japan, targeted populations in the Gumbo and Mangaten neighbourhoods, where cholera caseloads have been high, and reached 112 percent of the initial target," it said.
The vaccinations were conducted by the Health Ministry, in collaboration with IOM, the UN World Health Organization, the UN Children’s Fund, Health Link and Live Well. In advance of the campaign, volunteers were trained on administration of the vaccine and community messaging.
“The partnership seen in this campaign is outstanding and it is important that we continue to work together to help improve the health of families affected by the conflict in South Sudan,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission William Barriga.
“In Juba, like many places across the country, access to safe water can be challenging, meaning that prevention through vaccination is central to keeping families safe,” he added.
Violence in the capital in July displaced over 15,000 people, disrupting livelihoods and affecting access to public services. In crowded areas and among families with limited access to medical care, early prevention of cholera is crucial to reducing community transmission of the disease, which can spread rapidly.
With support from the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance Rapid Response Fund, IOM partners Impact Health Organization, Nile Hope and Mentor Initiative are reportedly conducting hygiene promotion in Juba neighbourhoods and at the UN Mission in South Sudan Tongping base to stem the spread of cholera and water-borne diseases.
"Messages focus on the importance of personal hygiene and proper handling of water and food", IOM stressed in it’s statement.
Of the more than 1.61 million internally displaced persons and 6.1 million people in need of humanitarian aid in South Sudan, the UN estimates that 4.7 million people require lifesaving health care assistance this year, as conflict and displacement increase the risk for epidemics and the spread of preventable diseases.