South Sudan’s fight against COVID-19 and efforts to safeguard the community from vaccine-preventable diseases

South Sudan’s fight against COVID-19 and efforts to safeguard the community from vaccine-preventable diseases

<div>South Sudan's fight against COVID-19 and efforts to safeguard the community from vaccine-preventable diseases</div>
<div>South Sudan's fight against COVID-19 and efforts to safeguard the community from vaccine-preventable diseases</div>

World Health Organization (WHO) - South Sudan

On 5 May 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the COVID-19 global health emergency, but efforts to fight the virus continue worldwide.

In South Sudan, the Ministry of Health set an ambitious goal to vaccinate over 80% of the population aged 18 and above by the end of 2024. To achieve this, the Ministry of Health included COVID-19 vaccination as part of regular healthcare services. This strategic move ensured that COVID-19 vaccines were readily accessible across various centers, increasing the chances of reaching a broad population.

To ensure the success of this initiative, South Sudan implemented a comprehensive system to monitor vaccination rates and disease spread in real-time. The Ministry of Health also launched targeted campaigns to raise awareness about vaccinations, especially among groups at higher risk, dispel myths, and educate the public on the benefits and safety of vaccines, ensuring higher acceptance rates.

The Campaign’s Reach

In early 2024, South Sudan conducted a successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Terekeka, Central Equatoria State; Kapoeta South, Kapoeta North, and Ikwotos, Eastern Equatoria State; Ezo and Tambura, Western Equatoria State; Aweil East and Aweil North, Northern Bahr El Ghazal State; and Gogrial West and Tonj North, Warrap State, vaccinating over 51% of the targeted population and significantly boosting overall vaccination rates.

“My team and I went door-to-door, spreading the word about the importance of vaccines and ensuring everyone had the opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Alice Lajara, a community leader in Isoho village. Her efforts not only educated the community but also alleviated fears and misconceptions about vaccinations.

“Alice’s visit changed everything for us. I was so scared for my children, but she explained everything clearly and kindly. Now, I feel confident that we are protected”, said Lucy Nabal, a young mother who overcame her fears about vaccinations.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of community leaders like Alice Lajara, who went door-to-door to spread awareness about the importance of vaccines, the campaign achieved an impressive 86% COVID-19 vaccination rate in Isoho village of Ikwotos County, Eastern Equatoria State.

“Vaccines save lives,” said Dr Humphrey Karamagi, WHO Representative for South Sudan. “By integrating the COVID-19 vaccine alongside essential vaccines such as the oral polio vaccine, pentavalent, measles, and tetanus toxoid, we can significantly enhance the overall immunity of our population and improve the health of our vulnerable communities. This comprehensive approach ensures that our children and adults are protected against multiple diseases, paving the way for a healthier future.”

Thanks to the generous funding of the World Bank, South Sudan’s successful vaccination campaign demonstrates the power of collaboration between government institutions, community leaders, and international organizations in safeguarding communities’ health and safety. It showcases the effectiveness of comprehensive vaccination strategies, real-time monitoring, targeted awareness campaigns, and community involvement, paving the way for its population’s healthier and more resilient future.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – South Sudan.