Vaccination Week 24 – 30 April 2013
May 2013 - The Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) was established in Sudan in 1976 in a few states but it eventually expanded geographically to cover the whole of the country. The EPI offers 5 vaccines ((BCG, OPV, Pentavalent (DTP/HepB/Hib), Rotavirus and measles)) that protect children against 9 childhood diseases. These vaccines target children under the age of one year. In January 2012, the programme introduced a booster measles dose and will continue to introduce new vaccines in the future. Pregnant women and women of childbearing age are also protected through vaccination with Tetanus Toxoid.
The EPI also implements global initiatives such as the eradication of poliomyelitis, and elimination of measles and neonatal tetanus and has hence entered every household in the country even in the most remote areas.
Sudan started celebrating a vaccination day since 2006 on 17 July 2006 as this day marked the vaccination of the first child in Sudan. In 2010, the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) started celebrating a vaccination week and Sudan changed its original date to that chosen by EMR which is 24 April. In 2012, the vaccination week became a global event.
Each year, the Vaccination Week adopts a different theme with the intention of increasing immunization awareness and demand, sustaining resources, putting EPI high on the political agenda, attracting the support of partners such as the private sector, civil society organizations, religious leaders, etc. The theme for this year’s vaccination week for Sudan is ”Stop Measles Now”
Since its establishment in Sudan, the EPI has evolved from a mobile service with a central cold chain system to a decentralized and zonal cold chain system. Over the years, the EPI routine programme has expanded with the introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine in 2005, and with the Haemophilus Influenza b (Hib) conjugate vaccine in 2008. Hib will be delivered as part of the pentavalent vaccine comprising diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Hib and hepatitis B. EPI programme achieves reductions in morbidity and mortality through mass routine immunization campaigns to increase coverage rates within children. The Sudanese government’s contribution to EPI activities remains limited to covering salary and some operational costs. As a consequence, the EPI in Sudan continues to principally funded by the generous support of external donors.