Measles vaccination begins in Malakal

14 Oct 2013

Measles vaccination begins in Malakal

14 October 2013 - Aiming to contain an outbreak of measles in Upper Nile State, a campaign to vaccinate thousands of children kicked off today in the state capital Malakal.

The campaign, targeting over 30,000 children between six months and five years of age, is being conducted by the national Ministry of Health in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

“This vaccination campaign is partial (and) targets only children inside Malakal town,” said Paul Okech, director for the immunization campaign. “The intervention came as a result of (the) national Ministry of Health response to (an) outbreak of measles in Malakal recently.”

The Ministry of Health announced the measles outbreak in Malakal County in a press release issued on 1 October.

“This announcement follows reports of 44 suspected cases of measles reported from Malakal Teaching Hospital since August 2013,” said the statement, which was signed by Dr. Othwonh Thabo, Acting Director of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response in the ministry.

“Ten out of the 15 samples collected from patients tested positive for measles,” he added. “Those affected are aged between six to 18 months and continue receiving treatment at Malakal Teaching Hospital.”

In addition to the immunization campaign, the ministry had reactivated a national and state measles taskforce to coordinate intervention response and increased surveillance at facility and community levels, Dr. Thabo said.

In a report covering the first week of October, WHO reported a total of 21 suspected cases of measles across the country, “with no related death”.

“The overall incidence decreased from (the previous) week,” the report said. “The suspected cases were reported from Upper Nile, Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria and Western Equatoria.”