South Sudan

Thousands of IDPs vaccinated against cholera in Bentiu

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22 May 2014 - To prevent an outbreak of cholera on the UNMISS protection site in Bentiu, Unity State, humanitarian partners completed a vaccination campaign today for more than 20,000 people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, along with the International Organization for Migration, Medecins sans Frontieres, CARE and the International Rescue Committee are managed the four-day campaign.

UNICEF provided 30,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine for the first round of vaccinations, which will be used for 96 per cent of the camp population. The remaining 4 per cent are children under one year of age, who are not vaccinated, according to WHO Medical Officer Dr. Bimpa Dieu.

“We, together with health partners, trained 24 teams composed of trained volunteers from among the IDPS – (including) a vaccinator, crowd controller, screener and social mobilizer,” said Dr. Dieu. “One team administered vaccines to at least for 250 people a day.”

Other humanitarians had intensified health education, focusing on proper hand washing, latrine use and water storage.

“Cholera itself is very easy disease to fight just with good sanitation, with enough water and also discipline from the community,” Dr. Dieu said. “Kids in each family should be well educated about hygiene as well as the use of latrines.”

Gai Jal Madeng, leader of a vaccination team, said such education was a major part of cholera prevention. “Some people understand the messages that we are giving to them. We will continue to educate them about cholera prevention even when we finish with vaccinations.”

IDP Nyakuoth Chuol welcomed the vaccines, as displaced people were drinking dirty water, which could cause cholera. “Now we have received cholera vaccines and we are hoping that we will not get cholera. We also learned to protect ourselves from cholera through good hygiene.”

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholera. It causes rapid dehydration with 40 per cent case fatality rate if left untreated and less than 1 per cent if treated on time.

For the vaccine to be effective, two doses must be given two weeks apart. The WHO and partners will carry out the second round of immunization for all those vaccinated during the first round.

Using the cholera campaign momentum, the WHO and UNICEF will deploy an additional 19 teams to vaccinate more than 14,000 children aged six months to 15 years against measles.

In Unity state, over twenty thousand people are targeted in the vaccination campaign in the UNMISS camp.

Last week, the Ministry of Health confirmed a cholera outbreak in Juba with some reported suspected cases in Jonglei and Upper Nile.