Fifteen children die from wrongly handled measles vaccine campaign in South Sudan

(Last Updated On: June 2, 2017)



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

month’s incident.

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.