JUBA - UN agencies in collaboration with South Sudan's health ministry will launch a vaccination exercise on Monday targeting some 144,033 people against cholera in Renk, a county bordering the Blue Nile state in Sudan.
The World Health Organization, UNICEF and MedAir said the first round of the cholera vaccination campaign will be conducted from Nov 18-23 while the second round is tentatively slated for Dec 9 to 13.
"The oral cholera vaccination provides protection to the vulnerable populations during the period when access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene are inadequate in cholera hotspots," Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative to South Sudan said in a statement issued on Saturday evening.
Renk is one of the counties that were affected by cholera during the longest and largest cholera outbreak (June 18, 2016 to Dec 18, 2017) in South Sudan.
WHO said on Sept 8 that a cholera outbreak was declared in Sudan with a total of 278 cases including eight deaths reported as of Oct 12.
"The affected states included Blue Nile and Sennar bordering Ethiopia and South Sudan respectively. Given the proximity and since returnees from Sudan are streaming into Renk town, the risk of cholera importation to Renk is high," it said.
With support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a total of 280,033 doses of vaccines have been secured to prevent the risk of cholera outbreak in high-risk areas of the country.
"For the vaccine to be most effective people need two doses administered two to four weeks apart," said WHO.
The UN health agency said given the risk of infectious outbreaks like cholera in South Sudan, it has developed a system to anticipate/forecast cholera epidemics for effective preparedness.
It said the cholera outbreak forecasting tool will allow timely prepositioning of supplies, training of health care workers, vaccination of at-risk populations, and launching of risk communication campaigns. South Sudan has adapted an integrated multisectoral targeted approach that includes patient care; case surveillance; community engagement and risk communication.
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