Sudan set to protect over 8 million people with its largest ever yellow fever vaccination drive [EN/AR]
20 March 2019 – The Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and UNICEF has launched a large-scale mass vaccination campaign in Sudan to vaccinate over 8.3 million people aged from 9 months to 60 years against yellow fever in the states of Blue Nile, Gezira and Sennar during 10–29 March 2019.
The campaign represents a crucial step in protecting a large portion of the population and reducing the risk of severe and deadly yellow fever outbreaks in the country. It is the third and final drive that Sudan is undertaking to protect populations at risk and prevent yellow fever epidemics, pending the implementation of infant immunization as routine practice.
The campaign forms a critical part of Sudan’s ongoing work to protect all populations against yellow fever epidemics, in alignment with the global Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) Strategy. The country plans to complement these yellow fever mass campaigns and ensure long-term protection through the introduction of yellow fever vaccination into routine immunization in the coming months.
“We acknowledge the commitment of the health authorities in Sudan to avail cash and fuel during this economic crisis to ensure that their people, especially children, are protected with a quality vaccine which will contribute to health security and making the world safer,” said Dr Naeema Al-Gasseer, WHO Representative in Sudan.
“Yellow fever vaccination is the most important tool we have to prevent yellow fever outbreaks. The vaccine will be freely available to any eligible person and will provide life-long protection against the disease. While protecting yourself against mosquito bites is important to reduce the risk of many diseases, only vaccination can eliminate the risk of yellow fever outbreaks,” she added.
Yellow fever is a viral disease that is transmitted by certain types of mosquito. Infection can cause fatal illness, including jaundice, and death, and can spread rapidly, locally and internationally, especially urban areas. However, the disease can be prevented by a single dose of a highly effective and safe vaccine. This campaign aims to boost protection in the general population and will target all eligible people.
Sudan is at high risk for the spread of yellow fever due to a combination of climate and ecological factors, and because there are still areas of low population immunity. Recent years have seen global changes in the epidemiology of yellow fever, with outbreaks occurring in areas that were not previously assessed as being at high risk.
“We are observing a changing nature in yellow fever disease dynamics. It is very important that every eligible person in this campaign receives the vaccine to protect themselves, their families and their communities,” said Professor Dr Babkir Kabaloo, Undersecretary of the Federal Ministry of Health.
“The current campaign represents one of the final phases in the Ministry’s efforts to protect the entire nation against yellow fever outbreaks. This campaign will cover Blue Nile, Gezira, and Sennar states. In the coming months, the remaining states of Khartoum, Northern and River Nile will also be covered, completing the protection of the entire Sudanese population,” he added.
Sudan’s health authorities and partners are working to introduce yellow fever vaccine in the national immunization schedule in the near future. This will help ensure the protection of the whole population and generations to come against this fatal but preventable disease.