JUBA, 19th October 2016 [Gurtong]-The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak in September after approximately 50 cases were reported across Abyei.
Many of the cases were among children who are under the age of 1 year and would have been too young to be covered by the last mass measles campaign conducted in early 2016.
“Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children in the region, where access to health care is limited for thousands of children,” said William Barriga, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission.
"To stem the spread of the outbreak, an IOM rapid response team deployed to Abyei on 5th October 2016 and immediately began training vaccination teams to ensure wide coverage across Abyei Area" says IOM.
IOM said staffs from the MoH, WHO, Goal, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and UNICEF ensured the success of the campaign by supporting efficient cold chain management, training vaccinators, supervising missions and providing vaccines and logistical support.
IOM further hailed the protection support from the United Nation Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) that enabled vaccinators to safely reach populations in remote and hard-to-reach areas.
Heavy rains and poor roads disrupted access to several areas for several days of the campaign, requiring vaccinators and supervisors to endure difficult conditions to reach target populations.
“At IOM clinics across the country and through rapid response missions, we are helping displaced and vulnerable communities get immunized against common diseases, including measles, through regular vaccination programmes.” Barriga added.
The Abyei Administrative Area is an oil-rich territory of more than 10,000 square kilometers contested by Sudan and South Sudan.
Recent history of inter-communal conflict in Abyei and the absence of public institutions in Abyei, particularly since heavy fighting in 2011, have resulted in significant humanitarian needs and increased the likelihood of disease outbreaks.
IOM’s rapid response mission to Abyei was supported by funding from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Government of Japan.