South Sudan cholera outbreak ends

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Eighteen month outbreak formally declared over following vaccination drive

A child receives Oral Cholera Vaccine as part of a Gavi-funded campaign in South Sudan.

A child receives Oral Cholera Vaccine as part of a Gavi-funded campaign in South Sudan.
Credit: WHO

Geneva, 7 February 2018 – A major cholera outbreak in South Sudan that took the lives of over 400 people is over, the South Sudan Ministry of Health announced today.

The announcement follows multiple Gavi-funded Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) campaigns, implemented in South Sudan with technical advice from the World Health Organisation, World Food Programme, MedAir and others, which vaccinated nearly a million people against the disease in 2017.

“As well as a clear demonstration of the impact of this important vaccine, this news is a tribute to the bravery and hard work of the South Sudanese vaccinators,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Last year’s vaccination campaign faced seemingly insurmountable security and logistical barriers yet protected nearly a million people in a country riven by conflict, helping to contain the disease. This is, rightly, a moment for celebration, however with the rainy season approaching and hundreds of thousands of children still missing out on other basic vaccines, this is no time for complacency.”

The outbreak was declared on 18 June 2016 and infected over 20,000 people, leading to 436 deaths, before the final case was discharged on 18 December 2017. From March 2017 more than 885,000 people at higher risk of cholera were immunised against the disease, with nearly 500,000 people also receiving a second dose of the vaccine later in the year.

The vaccination campaign was part of an integrated approach that incorporated surveillance, rapid response teams to investigate and respond to cases, the provision of clean water and promotion of good hygiene practices, as well as the treatment of cholera patients.

The country is dealing with several complex health emergencies with 5.1 million people in need of health assistance. Armed conflict has forced almost 4 million people to flee their homes. Nearly 5 million people, more than 40% of the population are severely food insecure. These challenges place a huge burden on the country’s health system, while the sanitation infrastructure needs further strengthening.

 

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