In an effort to rapidly contain the resurgence of cholera in South Sudan, WHO has secured oral cholera vaccine to vaccinate the communities in Leer Town and other areas. The 20 February integrated food security phase classification (IPC) identified Leer and Mayendit. With Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that exceed 30% in the two locations. Co-morbidity with cholera will result in rapid spread and high fatality rates.

Image/Alvaro1984 18
Image/Alvaro1984 18

Since October 2016, Leer town and Mayendit North have been affected by cholera outbreaks with limited humanitarian access.

“Insecurity coupled with sub-optimal access to safe water and sanitation infrastructure allowed the bacteria to spread to 12 counties in 9 states across the country” says Dr Wamala Joseph Francis, WHO Epidemiologist. The complementary oral cholera vaccine vaccination campaigns should interrupt all the residual transmission in high-risk populations and hotspot areas in the immediate term thus allowing time for government and partners to improve access to safe water and sanitation.

Health and WASH cluster partners prioritized nine high-risk populations for emergency complementary oral cholera vaccination. A multi-year plan for complementary oral cholera vaccination alongside improving access to safe water, sanitation, social mobilization, case management, and surveillance will be validated and launched on 9 March 2017.

Cholera is a potentially fatal water-borne disease transmitted through contaminated water and/or food. It causes watery diarrhea and vomiting that can rapidly lead to death through severe dehydration.

To slow the current surge in cholera cases, WHO and partners have secured the initial batch of 68 967 doses of oral cholera vaccine for Leer, Padeah, and Thonyor in Leer county.  MedAir, an emergency operational health cluster partner will coordinate the deployment of the vaccine alongside WFP’s food distribution headcount on 27 February 2017.

“Delivering this safe, affordable and effective oral cholera vaccine in South Sudan is vital to help tackle the rise in cholera cases, said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan. While access to clean water and sanitation systems is the ultimate solution to stopping the spread of cholera, we must utilize all tools available to help prevent continued needless deaths,” said Dr Usman.

Since 2014, South Sudan has conducted oral cholera vaccine campaigns on an annual basis, vaccinating over 600 000 people with vaccines sourced from the International Coordinating Group (ICG) emergency stockpile.