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Over 21,500 vaccinated against measles in Abyei: IOM

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October 19, 2016 (JUBA) – The International Organisation for Migrations (IOM) has, in response to a confirmed measles outbreak in Abyei Administrative Area, led a mass measles vaccination campaign reaching over 21,500 children under the age of five years.

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The vaccination campaign took place from 10 to 17 October, 2016.

South Sudan’s health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the measles outbreak in September after approximately 50 cases were reported across Abyei. Many of the cases were reportedly among children under one year and would have been too young to be vaccinated during the early 2016 campaign.

“To stem the spread of the outbreak, an IOM rapid response team deployed to Abyei on 5 October 2016 and immediately began training vaccination teams to ensure wide coverage across Abyei Area,” IOM said in statement Sudan Tribune obtained.

It further said that staff from the health ministry, WHO, Goal, Médecins Sans Frontières and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) worked to ensure the success of the campaign by supporting efficient cold chain management, training vaccinators, supervising missions and providing vaccines and logistical support.

According to IOM, heavy rains and poor roads also disrupted access to several areas for several days of the campaign, requiring vaccinators and supervisors to endure difficult conditions to reach target populations. Protection support from the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) enabled vaccinators to safely reach populations in remote and hard-to-reach areas.

“Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children in the region, where access to health care is limited for thousands of children,” said IOM South Sudan’s Chief of Mission, William Barriga.

“At IOM clinics across the country and through rapid response missions, we are helping displaced and vulnerable communities get immunized against common diseases, including measles, through regular vaccination programmes,” he added.

The Abyei Administrative Area, an oil-rich territory of more than 10,000 square kilometers, is contested by Sudan and South Sudan.

Inter-communal conflict in Abyei and the absence of public institutions in Abyei, particularly since the heavy fighting which occurred in the disputed area in 2011, have resulted in significant humanitarian needs and increased likelihoods of disease outbreaks.

The United States aid arm’s office for Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Japanese government supported IOM’s rapid response mission in Abyei region.

(ST)

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