The Ministry of Health with support from Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) partners including WHO, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and other health implementing partners have completed a pre-emptive yellow fever vaccination campaign.
The campaign targeting 57 443 individuals, aged 9 months to 60 years, was conducted in Morobo, Lainya and Yei River Counties in Central Equatoria State neighboring Kajo-Keji where Yellow Fever was confirmed in 2020. At the end of the campaign, 56,640 (98.6%) of individuals aged 9 months to 60 years received the yellow fever vaccine in Morobo, Lainya, and Yei River counties.
In March 2020, two laboratory-confirmed yellow fever cases were reported in Kajo-keji County following a comprehensive cross-border outbreak investigation after a yellow fever outbreak was declared in the bordering Moyo district of Uganda.
“When we learnt that Yellow fever has been confirmed in the neighboring Kajo-keji county it was a source of worry to the communities given the high risk posed by our proximity with Kajo-Keji and Uganda where similar cases have also been confirmed coupled with the fragile health system in the county” Hon. Aggrey Cyrus, Commissioner for Yei River County said
“We thank the Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF and other health implementing for heading to our call and ensure that yellow fever vaccine are administered to the people of Morobo, Lainya and Yei River counties, a relief to the communities.”
“Yellow Fever remains a major public health concern in South Sudan and its re-emergency especially at the time the country is responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic places more burden on the health system and is something to be worried about.” Said Dr John Rumunu, Director General for Preventive Health Service. “We thank WHO and our health partners for ensuring that our people are vaccinated against Yellow Fever”
The 8-day campaign was implemented within the national and WHO guidelines for implementing mass vaccination campaigns in the context of COVID-19.
Vaccination is the primary means for prevention and control of yellow fever and a single dose of WHO approved yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease.
“Given South Sudan’s increased vulnerability to Yellow Fever, strengthening capacities for surveillance, especially the cross-border surveillance and response systems is paramount for early detection and rapid containment of Yellow Fever to reduce needless illnesses and deaths”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, the WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan.
The pre-emptive yellow fever vaccination is part of the global strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics by 2026. Based on the EYE strategy initiative, South Sudan is classified as a high risk country and thus, the strategic yellow fever control requirements entail: maintaining high population immunity; monitoring population immunity; case-based surveillance and laboratory testing; rapid response to outbreaks; targeting travelers in compliance with IHR (2005); and strengthening health systems readiness.
In the last couple of years, WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and partners intensified the preventive measures for high-risk areas, including the inclusion of the yellow fever vaccine into the national childhood routine immunization, review application process to fund implementation of country control strategies and review as well as update the national yellow fever vaccination requirements for international travelers.
Note to editors:
Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne acute viral hemorrhagic disease and has an incubation period of 3-6 days following infection. The infection can range from mild to severe.
Mild symptoms of yellow fever include fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal and muscle pains. More severe symptoms include hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever. Vaccination is the best protection against the virus and provides life-long immunity.
In line with the IHR (2005) and the EYE strategy, the South Sudan Ministry of Health continues to implement yellow fever surveillance and response activities within the context of the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) strategy. The IDSR strategy supports case based surveillance, testing, and response to suspect and confirmed yellow fever cases. The implementation of IDSR in South Sudan is supported by WHO with funding from USAID and ECHO.
Dr Wamala Joseph Francis, Email: Wamalaj@who.int
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