SOUTH SUDAN —In response to a Yellow Fever epidemic in December 2023, the Ministry of Health, with the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, and other partners, has undertaken a yellow fever vaccine programme in Western Equatoria State.

This vaccination programme targeted Yambio, Nzara, Ibba, Ezzo, and Tambura counties, intending to administer the lifesaving vaccination to 465,798 people.

The epidemic, which was reported on December 24, 2023, was the region’s second large outbreak in more than three years, following a prior occurrence in neighbouring Kajo Keji county in 2020.

The initiative sought to immunize roughly 608,268 people between the ages of nine months and 65 years.

Despite logistical constraints and the complexity of working in a combat zone, the campaign achieved a 77% coverage rate, showing the difficulty of reaching all targeted persons.

The International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Provision has issued 610 000 doses of the Yellow Fever vaccine, allowing the Ministry of Health and its partners to commence the immunization campaign.

The effort was reinforced by significant financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which supplied the funds required for vaccine logistics and distribution.

Dr. Humphrey Karamagi, the WHO representative for South Sudan, remarked on the campaign’s results and the ongoing challenges.

Although reaching 77% coverage in such a difficult situation is remarkable, it also highlights the necessity for ongoing efforts to reach all at-risk people.

 He went on to note that his team’s dedication to performing rigorous epidemiological investigations and connecting with communities was critical in reducing the outbreak’s effect.

According to Dr. Karamagi, while this campaign has created a solid basis, the Yellow Fever vaccine must be included in South Sudan’s National Immunisation Schedule to offer total protection against future outbreaks.

He concluded by emphasising the significance of progressively incorporating Yellow Fever vaccines into the national framework.

 Yellow fever is an infectious illness caused by mosquitos that bite primarily during the day. As of 2023, 34 African nations and 13 Central and South American countries are either endemic for yellow fever or have endemic zones.

 The disease may be prevented using a vaccination that is both safe and affordable, and a single dose of yellow fever vaccine provides lifelong protection.

A modelling research based on African data sources predicted that the yellow fever burden in 2013 was 84,000-170,000 severe cases and 29,000-60,000 fatalities.

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