- Measles outbreak confirmed in 11 counties in South Sudan, upsurge in cases globally
- United Nations allocates $11 million to help displaced people return home
- Food insecurity increases, humanitarians urge for scale-up of aid
- Humanitarian access remained constrained in 2018, impacting aid to people in need
Measles outbreak confirmed in 11 counties in South Sudan, upsurge in cases globally
Since the beginning of 2019, measles outbreaks have been confirmed in 11 counties and 3 Protection of Civilians sites (Juba, Bentiu and Malakal), which is almost 6 times the number of cases for all of 2018.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in April that there has been a 300 per cent increase in reported measles cases worldwide in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year.
In South Sudan, cumulatively, a total of 937 suspected cases, including 7 deaths, have been reported in 2019.
Low routine immunization coverage at 59 per cent, well below the desired threshold of 90 to 95 per cent, was reported as the main underlying cause of the multiple outbreaks. The low coverage was, in turn, attributed to low access to basic healthcare, estimated at 44 per cent, and insecurity affecting health facilities.
“Measles is a highly contagious disease currently causing a global crisis, and concerted efforts are needed to improve routine immunization delivery so that all children are protected from vaccine preventable diseases,” said Dr. Olu Olushayo, WHO Representative for South Sudan.
The Ministry of Health, with support from humanitarian organizations, has launched several reactive measles campaigns to immunize children in affected locations.
Since the outbreak was declared in the country in January, campaigns have been conducted in Juba, Central Equatoria; Pibor in Jonglei; Aweil South in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Mayom in Unity; Melut in Upper Nile; and Gogrial West and Gogrial East in Warrap. More are planned for Aweil West and Aweil Center in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; and Tonj North in Warrap. Nearly 311,000 children aged between 6 months and 15 years have been vaccinated in the areas which have been reached.
A countrywide follow-up mass measles campaign targeting children aged 9-59 months is planned for November 2019, for all children who have remained unvaccinated since a 2017 campaign.
Other response activities include coordinating surveillance and laboratory investigation of suspect cases and community mobilization.
United Nations allocates $11 million to help displaced people return home
In March, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) announced an allocation of US$11 million to help 268,000 women, men and children who had been displaced by conflict within South Sudan to return to their homes.
The allocation will boost essential services including healthcare, education, and clean water and sanitation facilities in the areas of return, including serving people with disabilities. Protection services will be provided as a central component of the plan.
Farmers and herders in targeted areas will also receive emergency agricultural and livestock inputs and training to improve food and livestock production for vulnerable returnees.
“People who fled their homes with nothing are returning to nothing. They need urgent support. The CERF funding will ensure they have food, farming tools and seeds, shelter items and other necessities ahead of the rainy season starting in May, when access to most areas will be cut off,” said Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. “They will need support to recover their lost livelihoods and rebuild their lives.”
CERF is an emergency humanitarian fund established by the United Nations General Assembly in late 2005. It enhances the global body’s capacity to deliver funding quickly to humanitarian responders, and to provide time-critical assistance, including supplies, basic services and protection for those caught up in the world’s most neglected, under-funded and long-lasting crises. On average, more than half of CERF-funded humanitarian action addresses the needs of women and girls.