By James, Michael Igiri
Fifteen children under the age of five have died in a botched measles
vaccination campaign in South Sudan.
The country’s health ministry has blamed the deaths on human error, and is setting
up a commission to determine who is responsible.
According to the government, the same syringe was used for all the children last
month and the vaccine was not stored properly.
The vaccination campaign in the town of Kapoeta saw people aged as young as 12
administering the shots. Many other children became ill.
The World Health Organisation said it decided to continue the campaign – targeting
more than two million children across the country – after it learned about the deaths.
“This campaign is lifesaving,” said the country’s WHO director.
The organisation provides some training to South Sudan’s health officials, while the
UN children’s agency provides the vaccines.
It was not immediately clear whether any UN officials were present at the time of last
In a joint statement, the WHO and UNICEF said another 32 children suffered fever,
vomiting and diarrhoea but recovered.
According to UN data from 2016, South Sudan had at least 2,294 measles cases
and 28 deaths attributed to the vaccine.
The country has been embroiled in a civil war for three years, which has killed
thousands and sent almost two million refugees fleeing the country.