Ray of hope: UNICEF receives first vaccine consignment
Collaborative efforts between UNICEF and Gavi ensuring every child in Sudan is vaccinated
During the ongoing conflict in Sudan, a ray of hope emerged as a large shipment of vaccines arrived in Port Sudan. These vital vaccines will benefit approximately 350,000 children in need and protect them against killer diseases.
The transportation and delivery of the first vaccine consignment since the start of the conflict was made possible by the Gavi alliance, UNICEF’s longstanding partner.
“The mix of lifesaving childhood vaccines including pentavalent, meningitis A, yellow fever, and tuberculosis, will be distributed to states across Sudan,”
“Thanks to the collaborative efforts, these vaccines have been safeguarded and transported safely to reach the children who desperately require them,” she continued, while receiving the vaccines in Port Sudan.
Since the onset of the crisis, UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Health have been working around the clock to preserve millions of vaccines in the national cold chain facility which have since been distributed to the states and subsequently to lower-level health facilities benefiting displaced children and those in host communities. With the availability of vaccines, and the new stock, immunization services will continue in several states across the country.
“We have been able to keep these services going and to get these vaccines to safety especially for children who need them,” Mary Louise Eagleton shared.
Vaccinations continue in the Northern state
When life in Khartoum became difficult and the crossfire unbearable, Fatima and her family fled to Ertidy, a safer and calmer village where they currently enjoy peace and quiet. They endured a long seven-hour journey.
Back home, Fatima prioritized the health of her child and never missed any of her immunization appointments. When she heard that the services where being offered at a nearby health facility, she was among several other mothers at the vaccination site.
“I came to vaccinate my daughter. She is only four months old,” she mentioned. “There were no immunization services before we left home - health centers closed, and hospital destroyed.”
The onset of the war was a concern for Fatima. “I was very worried for my child thinking she would be deprived of vaccination.”
Immunization is one of the most well-known and effective methods of preventing childhood diseases. Now more than ever, as children remain on the move, their protection against illnesses and possible outbreaks remains a priority.
Fatima is aware of the benefits of vaccination and will endevour to seek for these services wherever she goes because it is beneficial for her child especially during the early years.
“She is very young, so these vaccines are important, and it will be terrible if the services are stopped. But it is also necessary to have them at the scheduled dates,” she continued.
The recollection of the vaccinations her child has previously received is very impressive as she points to the details captured in the immunization card, she was able to carry along with the few belongings.
As she urges all mothers to vaccinate their children regardless of the current events, she also calls on those responsible to keep health facilities open and functional if mothers are to adhere to her advice.
“If the child is not vaccinated, she/he can get ill easily, and their health would deteriorate which is not a good thing,” Fatima said.
While the health facility registered vaccine stock outs at the start of the conflict this is no more, thanks to the collaborative efforts of UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Health that have ensured that life-saving vaccines were delivered to 12 states to support continuity of immunization services across the country.
Amina, a vaccinator at the Primary Health Care centre affirms that the health facility has a sufficient stock of vaccines.
While Amina and the team of vaccinators are attending to an ever-increasing number of children due to the displacements, the good news is that they have sufficient vaccines for every child.
“The vaccine deliveries are regular, so we provide vaccines on time, despite the numbers. We also send reminders to the mothers when the appointments are due,” Fatima says.
Through these drives, the vaccination team has been able to reach zero dose children and under vaccinated, according to Amina.
The recent vaccine consignment supported by Gavi will replenish the vaccine supply chain during these critical times as vaccinators like Amina strive to reach and protect children from killer diseases diphtheria, tetanus, meningitis, and yellow fever.