Health sector and humanitarian community hold measles outbreak response meeting

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9 April 2015 - WHO Sudan hosted today a health cluster and humanitarian community meeting gathering all the stakeholders, partners, donors and nongovernmental organizations to discuss updates on the measles outbreak in the country and the next steps following arrival of the first batch of vaccine supplies.

Dr Naeema Al Gasseer, WHO Representative in Sudan, organized the meeting to streamline efforts exerted by different partners to enhance coordination on the ground and discuss ways to overcome bottlenecks in addressing gaps in resources to contain the spread of measles.

UNICEF, United Nations Population Fund, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the embassies of the United States of America, Malaysia and Japan, Medicines Sans Frontieres, ECHO and Italian Cooperation participated in the meeting.

Dr Al Gasseer provided the key information on measles, the magnitude of the outbreak in Sudan, case-fatality rate, geographical and categorical patterns of disease spread and actions taken so far with the leadership of Federal Minister of Health.

She said that it was not acceptable that any child should die because of a vaccine-preventable disease such as measles. The objective was to reduce the case-fatality rate and serious complications related to measles. She said that greater focus was needed on raising awareness, changing social behaviour, managing sick children and treating adults to reduce complications and side-effects, training health care workers and monitoring and follow up, as much as for planning for the vaccination campaigns.

Dr Shaya Ibrahim, Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Sudan, highlighted the two issues of the need to strengthen monitoring of immunization campaigns for better performance and less vaccination failure. Additionally, she said that social mobilization activities should start a long time ahead of the campaigns.

Central emergency response funds needed to be provided quicker taking into consideration the emergency situation. 2 million vaccine doses reached Sudan last week out of 9.6 million doses needed. The rest should arrive by the end of the month.

Sudan is currently in the last quarter of the transmission season. There is a possibility for the outbreak to flare up by next October. Scaling up vaccination activities, awareness campaigns, community involvement and training are vital to contain any outbreak.