Upper Nile rolls out meningitis vaccination campaign

9 May 2013

Upper Nile rolls out meningitis vaccination campaign

8 May 2013 - Aiming to control a meningitis outbreak in Upper Nile, the government was planning a vaccination campaign with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), officials said in Malakal today.

The state health officials confirmed that three people had died since the first case was reported on 12 April, while 87 other patients were receiving treatment at Malakal Teaching Hospital. The state ministry of health declared the outbreak on 30 April.

"Partners are boosting capacity at the Malakal hospital, including by establishing an isolation ward, and are monitoring neighbouring counties for an eventual further spread of the outbreak," said a 5 May report from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarians Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan.

State Minister of Health Dr. Charles Yor Odhik called on the population to remain calm and report any suspected cases to health centres. He added that his ministry was waiting for vaccines from Juba.

According to the OCHA report, the vaccination campaign will target 150,000 people out of 220,000 living in Malakal County.

"We have identified 10 centers in Hai Tenmaia, Hai Salam and Hai Mathar areas (where) citizens (can) go (to receive) vaccinations," said Dr. Odhik.

WHO medical officer Dr. Tesfaye Zewde said his organization was supporting the ministry with testing and drugs.

"WHO has supported the state ministry of health in taking samples to Nairobi for testing," said Dr. Zewde. "We are also ... helping in transporting the vaccines."

The OCHA report added that a community outreach campaign would also be rolled out to increase communities' awareness of meningitis and help identify new cases as early as possible.