Sunday, 21 October, 2018

South Sudan: 15 children die in botched vaccine campaign

South Sudan: 15 children die in botched vaccine campaign South Sudan: 15 children die in botched vaccine campaign
Melissa Porter | 03 June, 2017, 01:01

A nurse immunizes a young girl for measles at International Medical Corps' clinic in Gendrassa camp in Maban, Upper Nile State, South Sudan, on the border with Sudan, August 1, 2012.

Fifteen children died in South Sudan after receiving contaminated measles vaccines that had not been properly refrigerated, and were mixed using the same syringe for four days.

According to the statement, an investigation supported by World Health Organization and UNICEF found that the children died as a result of severe toxicity resulting from the administration of a contaminated vaccine.

The deaths have raised concerns over the nationwide vaccination campaign targeting 2.3 million children under the age of 5. About 300 children were vaccinated over the course of four days.

"The reuse of the reconstitution syringe causes it to become contaminated which in turn contaminates the measles vaccine vials and infects the vaccinated children".

South Sudan: 15 children die in botched vaccine campaign

The World Health Organization said it continued with the campaign after learning about the deaths because of its "lifesaving" effects on others, Sky News reported. There was no evidence that WHO-approved immunization safety standards were being used.

South Sudan has been embroiled in a bloody civil war for three years now, which has led to the deaths of tens of thousand of people and created the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world, where almost two million South Sudanese have fled the country.

South Sudan's government on Friday also said vaccinations are not being denied to any part of the country, including those held by opposition forces.

In 2016, South Sudan had at least 2,294 measles cases and 28 people died, according to United Nations data.

The risk of measles remains high in South Sudan because an ongoing military conflict has disrupted health services.