New measles vaccine
New measles vaccine

South Sudan’s ministry of health and partners have launched a massive measles and polio vaccination campaign.

The health ministry, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, are working together to battle an ongoing measles outbreak that has affected 908 children and killed at least seven.

Anthony Laku, head of the expanded program on immunization at the ministry of health, said a four-day anti-polio vaccination campaign was launched across the country on Tuesday, seeking to vaccinate at least 3 million children.

He said vitamin A supplements and deworming tablets will also be administered during the vaccination campaign to boost the health of children aged below five years. Authorities seek to vaccinate over 2 million children against the highly contagious measles across South Sudan this year, and over 300,000 children have so far been reached, according to the WHO.

South Sudan, which has not reported a case of polio since 2009, is still considered at risk of polio due to sub-national surveillance and immunization gaps, insecurity and population movements, the WHO said. A measles outbreak, declared in January, has since spread to 11 counties across the conflict-torn country. Measles is a highly contagious disease that can cause severe or fatal complications, especially in young children and babies. Children with malnutrition and weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable to complications and death.

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