Aid group targets pneumococcal diseases in South Sudan refugees

Medecins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) is targeting pneumococcal diseases through vaccines given to South Sudan refugees. | Courtesy of
Medecins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) teams based in Ethiopia’s Gambella region said on Tuesday that they will expand the vaccination packages that they offer refugees from South Sudan to include Hib (Haemophilus influenza type B) and PCV (Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) in an effort to decrease child deaths from pneumococcal diseases.

Hib and PCV vaccines may provide a wide protection against respiratory infections, which are common among the refugees, who must live in settlements where they are densely packed together. These conditions make it difficult to practice good hygiene, which is even worse when the rainy season begins. These combined conditions cause many deaths among refugees.

“The objective is to extend the introduction of PCV and Hib vaccines in the humanitarian response to a larger age group to reduce the number of cases and deaths for which the emergency might be responsible,” Hajir Elyas, Medecins San Frontieres' medical coordinator in Ethiopia, said. “It is not an easy operation because vaccines have to be kept cold at a certain temperature to be effective, and two doses minimum are needed for effective protection. It is not a one-time operation, We are showing that it is possible to augment the vaccine package with the PCV and Hib vaccines in large numbers during an emergency humanitarian response. This intervention should be a first step to review current policy. There is an urgent need to strengthen use of PCV in emergency vaccine packages, and to give access to PCV at an affordable price for organizations and states responding to emergencies."

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