South Sudan

Amid protracted and widespread violence, WHO partners with National NGOs to improve immunization coverage and save the lives of women and children in South Sudan

Juba, 15 December 2017: the World Health Organization (WHO) is expanding on its partners’ engagement mechanisms to address critical barriers in reaching vulnerable persons including women and children with life-saving interventions in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, where access and restrictions on movement severely hinder the ability of populations to get health services.

Since 2015, an estimated 456 000 people in south-eastern Upper Nile area have not been reached with life-saving health interventions leaving critical gaps and the derailment of vaccine preventable and communicable disease control achievements. Besides, surveillance indicators have remained very sub-optimal for vaccine preventable diseases.

To improve access and reduce family and community resistance to vaccination, WHO signed an agreement with Universal Network for Knowledge and Empowerment Agency (UNKEA), a national non-governmental organization operating in South Sudan to increase access to Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) services to achieve the overall goal of immunizing every child against vaccine preventable diseases in four counties of the south-eastern Upper Nile.

The four counties host over 342 482 persons at risk of meningitis, 86 763 exposed to deadly effects of measles and over 91 300 children not immunized with vaccine in the past two years, says Mr Kofi Boateng, the WHO EPI Officer. To maximize access, quality, utilization and acceptability of immunization services, WHO is also deploying highly skilled and experienced international staff to safe guard standards of implementation of immunization activities for routine, meningitis catch-up, measles follow-up and polio campaigns, Mr Boateng stressed.

Through the current partnership, UNKEA will provide accelerated routine immunization services through outreach services in remote areas, implement the measles follow-up, National Immunization Days (NIDs) or supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) and MenAfriVac campaigns in those counties.

This partnership aims to provide opportunities to build capacity, share best practices, establish practical solutions to overcome obstacles and further strengthen partnerships to provide basic lifesaving health services especially in highly insecure areas so that the gains made in Guinea Worm Eradication, Polio Eradication and other globally targeted efforts will not be put in jeopardy.

The partnership sets the stage for sustained development strategy that is home grown, reliable and accessible to the population in South Sudan, said Mr John Wiyual Ding the Health Manager of UNKEA. He also added that the organization has accepted the challenge to demonstrate equal capacity in implementing all the activities to the desired standards and expected targets.

Signing the agreement, Mr Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan, emphasized the need for stakeholders to build critical national capacities to ensure that residual resources are readily available in South Sudan to ensure resilience for live-saving responses to millions of populations displaced and inaccessible. WHO is also committed to strengthening immunization and other health services to save the lives of the vulnerable South Sudanese.