Sudan — The Ministry of Health of South Sudan with support from WHO and partners joined the rest of the African and Global community to celebrate the 8th edition of the African vaccination week (AVW) under the theme ‘Vaccines work: Do your part!’. This event provided a unique opportunity to highlight the need for collective actions to ensure universal access to immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases regardless of the wide spread conflict and insecurity in South Sudan.
To kick start the week-long campaign which spans from 23 to 29 April 2018, a national launch to raise awareness of the need and right of everyone, particularly children and women, to be protected from the vaccine preventable diseases was held at El Sabbah Children Hospital, Juba. At the launch over 200 children were vaccinated with Pentavalent and measles vaccines, and 120 mothers/caretakers received mosquito nets. AVW visibility materials were also distributed. All the states throughout the country are implementing similar activities to increase demand and boost immunization coverage during this week.
Dr Samson Baba, Advisor to the Minister on Special Programs, underscored the need for collective involvement of all stakeholders and called upon fathers to play an active role in ensuring that women and children are immunized and fully protected. He appreciated the contributions of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the commitments of WHO and UNICEF for the continued support to protect the people of South Sudan.
Others who made good will remarks included, Dr Jamal Hassen Guma, Director of Primary Health Care representing the State Minister of Health - Jubek, Mr Babuka Boyi representing UNICEF and Ms Margret Hercules Public Health Advisor - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One of the key highlights for the day was a locally composed theme song which was launched and will be aired widely during the campaign.
On behalf of WHO the Technical Officer - Universal Immunization, Dr Rachel Seruyange presented the Regional Director’s message where she re-echoed the highlights of AVW that everyone has a role to play to ensure that more people are vaccinated. This is crucial for achieving the target of universal immunization coverage by 2020, thus contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and Universal Health Coverage.
The Africa Vaccination Week aims to strengthen immunization programs in the region by raising awareness and the importance of the need and right to be protected from vaccine preventable diseases.