Statement attributable to the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Mr. Ali Al-Za’tari, 6 December 2012 (EN/AR)
Khartoum, 6 December 2012. The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Mr. Ali Al-Za’tari, has emphasized the serious nature of the yellow fever outbreak in Darfur and has called for urgent funding to procure additional yellow fever vaccines to control the outbreak.
Over 670 people are reported to have contracted yellow fever in Darfur, with over 160 people dying from the disease since the World Health Organization (WHO) was notified of the outbreak on 29 October. It is likely that many more cases of yellow fever have not been reported to health authorities.
International humanitarian agencies in Sudan are supporting the federal and state Ministries of Health both financially and logistically to address the yellow fever outbreak in Darfur. Some USD 2.6 million has been mobilized by the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, alongside other donor contributions, allowing for the purchase of 3.7 million vaccines. WHO estimates that it requires an additional 2.2 million doses of vaccine for over two million people who are still at risk in Darfur. A further USD 1.9 million is required to procure these doses.
Mr. Al-Za’tari has stressed the urgent need to fund the procurement of more vaccines, saying, “the outbreak is very significant and the spread of the disease shows no signs of stopping. The only way to stop its spread is to ensure vaccinations are administered to all people at risk. We also need to ensure that mosquito nets are available and spraying is undertaken to control mosquito populations.”
In collaboration with the federal Ministry of Health, a vaccination campaign was launched on 20 November in the 12 most affected areas of Darfur. So far, 1.3 million people have received yellow fever vaccinations.
Mr. Al-Za’tari said that the response was contributing to a decrease in the death rate of those affected in Darfur. “There is no treatment for yellow fever, but the activities of health workers responding to the outbreak have reduced the death rate from 40 per cent when the outbreak began in late October to around 24 per cent. The international humanitarian community is working with the Ministry of Health and medical partners to lower this rate even further. Above all else, we need to vaccinate people to prevent them from contracting the disease in the first place”.