U.N. helps South Sudan fight meningitis outbreak

The United Nations World Health Organization and the nation of South Sudan announced on Thursday that they will collaborate on a vaccination campaign to battle a meningitis outbreak in the Upper Nile state.

The state ministry of health declared the meningitis outbreak on April 30 after the first case occurred on April 12. There are currently 87 people receiving treatment for the disease. The outbreak caused three meningitis-related deaths.

The U.N.-South Sudan vaccination campaign will target 150,000 people out of 220,000 people living in the city of Malakal. The U.N. and the state ministry of health are also putting practices in place to prevent the disease from spreading.

"Partners are boosting capacity at the Malakal hospital, including by establishing an isolation ward, and are monitoring neighboring counties for an eventual further spread of the outbreak," the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarians Affairs in South Sudan said.

Tesfaye Zewde, the WHO's medical officer, said the WHO is supporting the health ministry through the provision of testing and drugs.

"WHO has supported the state ministry of health in taking samples to Nairobi for testing," Zewde said. "We are also helping in transporting the vaccines."

OCHA said it will implement an outreach campaign to increase the awareness of meningitis and to identify new infections as early as possible.