To mark World Immunization Week, South Sudan intensifies immunization activities throughout the nation
Juba, South Sudan, 23 April 2013 - As South Sudan joins the rest of the world to mark the World Immunization Week, 68% of children under the age of one in the new nation are not fully immunized. This is according to the 2012 National Expanded Programme of Immunization Coverage Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health.
World Immunization Week is a global initiative celebrated each year in late April to promote the use of life-saving vaccines, one of the world's most potent tools to protect children against killer diseases.
An estimated one and a half million children died from vaccine-preventable diseases globally in 2011 and 22.4 million others were not immunized - an increase of over one million from 2010.
In South Sudan, the majority of children are still not being reached with vital vaccines due to social or geographical exclusion, lack of resources, inadequate information about the importance of immunization, weak health systems and conflicts that prevent health workers from providing services to affected communities.
"The Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners is working on strengthening routine immunization throughout the country in order to ensure that children get the right vaccine at the right time as part of improving the health care system in the new nation," said the Director of the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) in the Ministry of Health Dr. Anthony Lako.
"Too many South Sudanese children are not fully immunized and therefore they are not protected from diseases that are easily preventable. In 2012, 50,000 children under the age of 1 had not been vaccinated against the six vaccine preventable killer diseases. We need an urgent effort from government leaders, religious leaders, the media and influential people in the society at all levels to mobilize communities so as to reach all eligible children," said UNICEF's Representative, Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque.
Vaccines are estimated to save the lives of 2 to 3 million children each year - representing one of the ten greatest achievements in public health of the last century, according to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
As an initiative to scale up immunization in South Sudan, Routine Immunization will be strengthened through spreading awareness on importance of seeking immunization for eligible children amongst parents, caregivers and community leaders during the week. In addition, the second round of the polio immunization campaign targeting 3.3 million children less than five years old together with Vitamin A supplementation to all eligible children will be carried out between 23rd-26th April 2013.
UNICEF will continue to support the Ministry of Health and other partners in optimising immunization supply chains by providing vaccines, cold chain equipment, offering logistical support and supporting community mobilization efforts in a bid to ensure every eligible child is immunized.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
South Sudan Vaccination Schedule for Women and Children under 1 year
All children under the age of 5 years receive additional polio immunization to boost their immunity.
FACTS and Figures
Statistics from Ministry of Health EPI Coverage Survey 2012 -32% of children under 1 yearsare fully immunized, 11% have never been vaccinated and 57% were partially vaccinated. The number of children under 1 year is 417,854 projected at 3% using the 2008 census (Ministry of Health 2012 data)
54% of all pregnant women have received at least 2 doses of tetanus toxoid vaccine.(Ministry of Health 2012 data)
Polio Campaigns- The Ministry of Health Data shows that 94% of children under the age of 5 were immunized against polio in 2012. The target population for polio campaigns is 3.3 million children all under 5yrs.
Maternal and Neonatal Eradication campaigns are on-going throughout South Sudan.
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Mercy Kolok, Communication Officer, UNICEF South Sudan
Tel: + 211 (0) 955639658