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IRIN Examines Gaps In Childhood Immunization Efforts In South Sudan

“South Sudan is doing its bit for global polio eradication efforts, but huge gaps in immunization against other diseases remain,” IRIN reports. “Targeted polio immunization efforts started in the area more than a decade before the country’s independence in 2011 and have remained a top priority,” the news service writes, adding, “Health officials and humanitarian groups are trying to build on this success to improve other immunization efforts, including neonatal tetanus and measles, but more funding and a better health infrastructure are urgently needed.” According to IRIN, “[e]very child in the country is supposed to be vaccinated against tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles by its first birthday,” but Anthony Kirbak, director of South Sudan’s expanded program on immunization (EMI), “said that only happens for about 65 percent of the country’s children due to a scant health infrastructure, poor roads and cyclical violence in some areas of the country.” The news service details the country’s polio vaccination efforts, noting “the Ministry of Health sends thousands of volunteers out across the country four times a year to immunize every child they can find who is under six,” and highlights a three-part pneumococcal vaccination campaign in Yida refugee camp started by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) last month (8/15).