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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Anti-Vaccine Movement in South Sudan

The anti-vaccine movement in South Sudan, Africa, is by force, not choice. Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.



Measles in South Sudan


Measles outbreak Africa mothers wait to vaccinate their babies
Measles outbreak Africa
mothers wait to vaccinate their babies
South Sudan is being wracked by severe humanitarian health emergencies. The destruction of health facilities and displacement of health workers have stretched an already vulnerable health system to breaking point. Despite being preventable, measles is still common in many parts of South Sudan Africa.

Measles is an extremely infectious disease caused by the rubeola virus. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year worldwide. Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat followed by a rash that spreads over the entire body.

In February 2014, WHO categorized South Sudan’s health crisis as a “Grade 3” – the highest level of humanitarian emergency. More than 3500 cases, and 170 deaths were reported in 2015. Almost all were recorded in displaced people’s camps or refugee camps. Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children throughout Africa even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

"South Sudan is a challenging work environment because of insecurity and a limited ability to access some of the country’s most vulnerable people," said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan.

Almost all Measles cases were recorded in displaced people’s camps or refugee camps in South Sudan 2015
Almost all Measles cases were recorded
in displaced people’s camps or refugee camps
in South Sudan 2015.
Most measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease. Complications are more common in children under the age of 5, or adults over the age of 20. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia. 

Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases.

In the U.S., many parents started refusing to vaccinate their children from the measles and decide to raise their children without vaccines. In 2015 officials in 14 states grappled to contain a spreading measles outbreak that began near California’s Disneyland. The anti-vaccine movement can largely be traced to a 1998 report in a medical journal that suggested a link between vaccines and autism but was later proved fraudulent and retracted.

Throughout South Sudan, infectious diseases such as measles pose a major public health challenge and cause significant levels of illness, disability and death for a country also caught in conflict. The country’s weak public health systems aggravate the situation to effectively respond to largely preventable disease outbreaks. Frequent disease outbreaks are driven by multiple factors, including conflict leading to displacement of people and overcrowding and poor environmental conditions.

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