IOM and Partners Complete Cholera Vaccination Campaign in Bentiu, South Sudan

Posted: 
06/30/15

South Sudan - IOM in South Sudan, in close coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, has completed the second and final round of an oral cholera vaccine campaign at the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu, Unity State. 

Vaccination of the internally displaced population (IDP) in the Bentiu PoC site is critical in the wake of the 23 June declaration of a cholera outbreak in the capital city of Juba. As of 30 June teams in the country have confirmed over 350 cholera cases in Juba county.

During two rounds of cholera vaccinations between 1–28 June, the IOM Rapid Response Team and partners vaccinated more than 71,200 people, including IDPs, and UN and humanitarian staff.

Although no confirmed cases have been reported outside of Juba, pre-emptive activities – such as, oral vaccination and hygiene promotion – are critical to help contain the spread of cholera, especially in crowded IDP sites like Bentiu.

“With the Bentiu IDP population increasing by hundreds each day and the rainy season setting in, conditions are ripe for the spread of diseases,” stated David Derthick, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission. “IOM’s cholera vaccination campaign is a vital step to keeping cholera at bay in Bentiu.”

IOM will use the remaining vaccines to vaccinate new arrivals as they enter the PoC site.

The last cholera outbreak in 2014 resulted in at least 167 deaths across the country; however, no cholera cases were reported in the Bentiu PoC site, according to the South Sudanese government and WHO. This was largely due to the combination of an oral cholera vaccine campaign and increased awareness on the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation. Heightened efforts to emphasize the importance of using latrines and hand washing are needed in order to reach the same results this year.

This year’s IOM-led oral cholera vaccine campaign in Bentiu occurred before the height of the rainy season, when flooding and deteriorating living conditions can lead to disease outbreaks. The vaccine only prevents cholera, not other diarrheal diseases, which can be just as deadly.

“Through the efforts of our Rapid Response Team, IOM has quickly vaccinated the IDP population against cholera, while at the same time enabling our health partners to continue regular medical services that are just as vital to minimizing the spread of diseases,” noted Haley West, IOM Migration Health Programme Coordinator.

As a health care provider at the Bentiu PoC site, IOM also supports preventive measures and early detection of communicable diseases. During the past week alone, the IOM health clinic serviced more than 2,000 health consultations and increased health promotion activities to encourage IDPs to seek timely health care assistance. 

IOM teams in Bentiu also implement water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions, including constructing sanitation infrastructure, ensuring access to safe drinking water and promoting good hygiene and sanitation habits.

In an effort to curb flooding and poor WASH conditions seen in 2014, IOM and partners embarked on improving and expanding the Bentiu PoC site this year. The work in progress includes extensive drainage infrastructure and increased access to humanitarian services, which will contribute to improved living conditions.

In response to a request from WHO and other health partners, IOM will also lead an oral cholera vaccination campaign in the UN PoC site in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in the coming weeks.

The vaccination campaign at the Bentiu PoC site was funded by the USAID Office of  the US Foreign Disaster Assistance Rapid Response Fund.

For further information please contact Ashley McLaughlin, IOM South Sudan, Tel.: +211 922 405 716, Email: amclaughlin@iom.int

IOM administers oral cholera vaccine at the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site in South Sudan. © IOM 2015
IOM administers oral cholera vaccine at the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site in South Sudan. © IOM 2015
IOM administers oral cholera vaccine at the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site in South Sudan. © IOM 2015
IOM administers oral cholera vaccine at the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site in South Sudan. © IOM 2015