Ministry: Change response to Sudan’s measles outbreak

The Health Ministry reports that a change in the response to the epidemic is needed. The total number of deaths by measles in 2015 has risen to 38.

The Sudanese Ministry of Health reported that a change in the response to the measles epidemic is needed, stressing that vaccination campaigns should not only cover affected localities. The total number of deaths in 2015 has risen to 38.

The Ministry of Health confirmed 2,511 cases in Sudan as of 24 May, a rise of 12% since 3 May. 4,545 patients are suspected to suffer from measles, compared to 4,127 cases at the start of May.

Thirty-eight of these suspected cases died. The under-15-years age group has the highest percentage of reported cases. In the latest news bulletin by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Ministry also reports that the only state not affected is River Nile.

A change in the approach to responding to disease outbreaks is required, the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said. They recommended that vaccination campaigns should cover states in full and not only affected localities, and should ideally cover the whole country.

Second vaccination campaign

WHO and UNICEF will support the Health Ministry to conduct a second response vaccination campaign, targeting about 1.85 million children between six months and 15 years of age, in 22 localities in North, South, East and Central Darfur states. Planning for this campaign is underway, OCHA writes.

However, a lack of funding has hampered widening the scale of the campaign. The funding gap in achieving coverage in all five Darfur states is $1.8 million. The first vaccination campaign with the same target group targeted 1.69 million children, and managed to reach 1.71 million.

In May, the director of the Immunisation Department in East Darfur, Abdelrazeg El Dom, attributed the rise in measles mortality rates to poor government funding and the lack of vaccines.