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30.5.2016 | News

Meningitis is deadly disease in South Sudan. MAGNA saves the children by vaccination.

South Sudan, 2016 | Children are waiting for vaccination during the immunization campaign in front of MAGNA tent. Copyright by MAGNA

South Sudan has gained independence in July 2011. However the hard fought joy from being independent did not last very long. A civil war broke out and the situation became unbearable for the civilians. Every fifth inhabitant must have left his/her home. Overcrowded camps for internally displaced people are set up. There is insufficient hygiene, lack of food and immunization of the residents. MAGNA has vaccinated children and young people against meningitis in March 2016 with 97% coverage.

South Sudan is weakened not only by internal unrests but by epidemics that yearly hit the country as well. Country lies in so-called meningitis belt. It is a zone of 26 sub-Saharan countries. They have been fighting with bacteria of Meningococcus group A for many decades. Therefore the scientists developed special vaccination called „MenAfriVac“ that prevents from spreading among the most vulnerable group of habitants. Among children and adults from the age of one year up to twenty-nine years.

The bacteria affects the brain and causes infection of the lining around the brain. This disease has a very rapid course. A person may die in 24-48 hours after the first symptoms such as stiff neck, high fever, vomiting or convulsions. Those who manage to survive may have lasting problems. They may suffer from epilepsy, loss of hearing, necrosis or mental retardation until the rest of the life. The disease is spread easily especially during the dry season. The infectious droplets of respiratory and throat secretions are spread in the air. During meningitis outbreaks, mothers desperately awaited the seasonal „rains of hope“ to wash away the disease for another year.

MAGNA responded by leading the vaccination campaign in March 2016. MAGNA operates in camp for internally displaced people in Juba Central Equatoria State treating the population of 22 400 people. MAGNA aimed the vaccination campaign against meningitis at children and young people under age of 29. The aim was achieved by vaccinating with 97% coverage. In overall MAGNA staff delivered the vaccine to 18 840 children and youngsters. 10 special trained vaccination teams successfully prolonged the lives for 10 years. Every team consisted of five people. Two vaccinators, one recorder, one crowd controller and a teamleader. There was a need not only to deliver the vaccination but to inform and mobilize the people.

MAGNA has been operating in South Sudan from 2011.

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