WHO and the Ministry of Health strategize for the next five years to improve the immunization system in South Sudan
An effective, evenly targeted immunization programme and its ability to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) will greatly contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages) that aims to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and 25 per 1000 live births respectively.
The benefits of vaccination have been comprehensively proven; however, disparities in coverage persist because of poor health system management, limited resources, and parental knowledge and attitudes.
To identify the strategic directions required to bridge the gaps in low uptake of vaccination and related inequities, WHO South Sudan in partnership with the MoH, UNICEF and other partners gathered from 17 to 20 October 2017 to analyze the current situation based on the recommendations of the just ended comprehensive Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPD) Surveillance review.
The experts from the immunization programme discussed key strategies related to programme management, service delivery, vaccines, cold chain and logistics, communication and social mobilization, surveillance as well as data quality improvement to develop the comprehensive Multi-Year Plan for 2018 – 2022 (cMYP). The cMYP is the strategic plan for the National Immunization programme.
Dr. Samson Baba, Special Advisor to the Minister of Health acknowledged the role of WHO and partners’ in supporting immunisation system improvement efforts. The Government remains commitment to the Addis Abba Declaration, and related strategic documents in Africa and Globally, underscored Dr Baba. There is need to provide actionable strategies noting the challenges currently faced by the health sector. We need partners support to keep the communities resilient to continue providing immunisation services to the women and children.
The process will also culminate in addressing associated health system gaps including human resources and immunization financings. Strategies for mobilizing resources to increase coverage and at the same time build reserved capacities to sustain achievements gained would be identified and planned for the next 5 years.
“ In line with the Health Sector Policy and Strategy, the National Immunisation programme needs to Identify and plan for effective strategies necessary to optimize uptake of vaccination in the next five years”, said Mr Kofi Boateng, WHO EPI Focal Point.
Vaccination has been described as one of the greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century and is widely seen as a worthwhile and cost-effective public health measure.
“South Sudan requires huge investments and sacrifices to ensure that women and children are reached with potent vaccines” Dr. Petu Amos
Many children are still not reached with potent vaccines due to the weak and fragile nature of the health system.
“Vaccinations are important to protect children from potentially serious and preventable diseases, said Mr Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative a.i. to South Sudan. WHO is committed to work with the MoH and partners to maximize routine vaccination uptake.
The Ministry of Health with support from WHO and partners conducted the comprehensive EPI and VPD surveillance review from 25 September to 5 October 2017.
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