TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

WHO to help administer 140,000 cholera vaccines in South Sudan

The World Health Organization announced on Saturday that it is working with the government of South Sudan and its partners to vaccinate approximately 140,000 people living in temporary camps against cholera.

The cholera vaccines come from an emergency stockpile managed by the WHO, UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The stockpile was created by the WHO in 2013, and the Sudan campaign is the first use of the stockpile.

While there is not a cholera outbreak currently, people displaced by the recent conflict and living in the South Sudanese camps are at risk due to overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions.

Approximately 94,000 people were vaccinated on Saturday in the Minkaman camp in Awerial County. Additional campaigns in Juba will target 43,000 refugees.

"Minkaman camp in Awerial County and Juba camp have been selected because of the relative stability of the situation and easier access in those places," Abdinasir Abubakar, a member of the WHO's disease surveillance and response team in South Sudan, said. "We are also looking at other camps, and once the accessibility and security improves, we will expand the cholera vaccination campaigns into these areas. We will be reviewing the situation day by day."

Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by ingestion of contaminated water or food. The disease can kill in a matter of hours due to rapid dehydration. Cholera vaccination is a tool that can be used to supplement clean water, adequate sanitation, health education and other cholera control measures.