23 Feb 2019

 

South Sudan Vaccinates Health Workers Against Ebola

The Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization and other health partners have started vaccinating frontline healthcare workers against the Ebola Virus Disease as part of preparedness to fight the spread of the disease.

South Sudan Vaccinates Health Workers Against Ebola
A health worker being vaccinated in Yambio. [Photo by WHO]

By Ojwe Lumara

JUBA, 28 January 2019 [Gurtong] - The vaccination begun on Monday in South Sudan’s Yambio town of Gbudue State but health workers in other high-risk areas such as Tombura, Yei, Nimule and Juba will also be vaccinated.

The targeted areas are considered high-risk areas bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the Ebola outbreak is ongoing.

“There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in South Sudan. But, South Sudan is at particularly high risk of imported cases due to the cross-border movement of people and goods, hence protecting frontline and health care workers from getting infected with Ebola is the highest priority for the Ministry of Health in South Sudan,” said Dr. Riak Gai Kok, the Minister of Health.

He said the vaccination exercise is part of the on-going efforts of the Ministry of Health and partners to strengthen the country’s preparedness capacities and mitigate the risk of EVD importation from the raging outbreak in DRC.

The Ministry of Health is undertaking the vaccination exercise with technical support from the WHO and operational costs from GAVI vaccine alliance, UNICEF, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DFID and other partners.

WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said it was vital to prepare foe any potential case of Ebola spreading beyond the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“WHO is investing a huge amount of resources into preventing Ebola from spreading outside DRC and helping the government ramp up their readiness to respond should any country have a positive case of Ebola,” he said.

He added WHO has helped train 60 health workers in good clinical practice principles and protocol procedures to administer the yet-to-be-licensed Ebola vaccine.

The Ministry of Health with the support of its partners has established 17 screening points to detect any travellers entering the country who may be infected with the virus.

South Sudan received 2,160 doses of the Ebola vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV) from Merck, the vaccine developer. The vaccine offers protection against the Zaire strain of the virus.

Uganda, considered one of the high risk countries, began vaccinating its front-line workers in November 2018 while in DRC, more than 66 000 people have been vaccinated.
 

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