Sudan | News | Measles vaccination targets 15 million children in Sudan

Measles vaccination targets 15 million children in Sudan

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A grade school pupil from Bahri locality receives second dose of measles vaccine. Every child should receive two doses of measles vaccine. Measles vaccination points are established in school premises. Photo shows students line-up for the jab.24 November 2013 --- Today in Khartoum and Kassala, Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) officially launched a nationwide measles catch-up campaign targeting about 15 million children from the ages of nine months to 15 years.

Sudan is one of the 47 priority countries with a high measles burden. The country began its measles elimination efforts in 2004 with support from the global Measles Initiative. Between 2004 and 2005, measles catch-up campaigns were implemented successfully in all states of Sudan vaccinating 12 045 538 (96%) of children under the age of 15. Following these campaigns, reported cases reduced dramatically from 9 562 cases in 2004 to only 449 in 2006 - a reduction rate of 95%.

Over 2007 and 2008, measles follow-up campaigns were implemented vaccinating 4 266 123 (97%) children under the age of five. However, from 2010, due to population growth, the country experienced significant measles outbreaks. Measles then spread all over the country causing major outbreaks in Kassala state in 2012, and this transmission has continued to this date.

Measles is one of the five leading causes of death among children under five. It is a highly contagious disease that can cause severe complications, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and encephalitis, and death. It can easily spread through coughing and sneezing.

The FMoH, through its expanded programme on immunization (EPI) and with support from health development partners, has worked very hard to achieve high levels of routine immunization coverage for vaccine preventable diseases since the beginning of the programme.

To ensure the survival, growth and development of every child in Sudan, every child must be reached with life-saving vaccines, including vaccination against measles.

“Unfortunately, more than half a million children will not be reached due to the on-going conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, leaving a huge number of susceptible cases and increasing the risk of measles outbreaks in these areas”, said Dorothy Ochola-Odongo, Chief of Health, UNICEF Sudan.

For this particular campaign, UNICEF mobilised most of the financial resources, US$ 10.6 million which represents about 80% of the total cost required for the campaign. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also provided financial as well as technical support to the campaign.

“Measles is preventable and we need to sustain our efforts in combating the disease and continue routine immunization by providing two doses of vaccine to at least 95% of the target population and provide treatment for the disease. Measles surveillance has to be fully operational with prompt laboratory investigations of suspected cases”, said Dr Ahmed Hardan, Technical Officer for EPI, WHO Sudan.

The measles campaign is a stepping stone toward making Sudan free of this disease, a contribution to the regional goal of elimination of this disease by 2015.

Key health-related statistics

Total population (000s) 40 783
Total health expenditure (% of general government expenditure) 7.2
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) 311
Primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 1.5
Total life expectancy at birth (years) 65.1

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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