THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Thousands of refugee children in Uganda to receive pneumococcal vaccine

Doctors Without Borders announced on Friday that approximately 10,000 refugee children in northern Uganda will begin receiving vaccinations against pneumococcal disease.

Pneumococcal disease is one of the leading causes of death for children living in refugee camps, according to a Doctors Without Borders press release.

The vaccination campaign is intended to target South Sudanese refugee children under the age of two in the Adjumani district of northern Uganda. Children will receive a vaccine against pneumococcal disease, as well as Haemophilus influenza type B and other diseases.

Respiratory infections are the second most common cause of medical consultations, hospitalizations and death among children under the age of five in the refugee population. More than 70,000 South Sudanese refugees are currently living in Uganda's Adjumani district.

The World Health Organization recommends vaccinations for those living in refugee camps, as children in camps are particularly vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. Doctors Without Borders said, however, that children in refugee camps are sometimes the least likely to receive vaccines due to financial, logistical and regulatory barriers.

"There is a huge gap between the WHO recommendations and the possibility of implementing them in emergency settings," Leon Salumu, a medical advisor for Uganda, said. "This relevant policy to protect vulnerable populations is unfortunately not accompanied by the resources and technical support necessary for its implementation in emergency situations."