A measles outbreak has been confirmed in Ikotos County, Eastern Equatoria after four samples from suspect cases tested positive. At least 28 suspect cases, including eight related deaths, have been reported in Kidepo valley, Ikotos County between 12 and 20 November 2019. The most affected age group are children under five years of age; cases were also mainly reported among refugee returnees from Uganda.
According to the authorities, the number of cases are increasing daily, and some residents have resorted to using local medicines. Local authorities have urged humanitarian organizations to coordinate efforts to help address the outbreak, noting that the state urgently needs vaccines and supplies. An emergency health team has been dispatched to Kidepo valley in Ikotos County, to respond to escalating cases of measles.
These outbreak come in addition to already reported outbreaks in 19 counties including Budi and Torit counties in Eastern Equatoria, Juba county and Juba PoC site in Central Equatoria, Pibor county in Jonglei, Aweil East, Aweil South and Aweil West counties in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Gogrial East, Gogrial West, Tonj North and Tonj South counties in Warrap, Wau and Jur River counties, and Wau PoC site in Western Bahr el Ghazal, Mayom county and Bentiu PoC site in Unity, Malakal, Melut and Renk counties in Upper Nile and Yambio county in Western Equatoria since the begining of 2019.
Overall, a total of 3,875 suspected cases, including 23 related deaths, have been reported in the country between January and 10 November 2019, according to World Health Organization data. Pibor county, an area, worst affected by the floods recorded the highest number of cases with a total of 2,056, including nine deaths. Of those, about 71 per cent of the cases are children under 5 years of age, and 32 per cent of the cases reported are not vaccinated against measles.
Since the outbreak was declared in January 2019, humanitarian organizations have conducted vaccination campaigns and reached more than 689,900 children aged six months to 15 years in the counties of Pibor, Abyei, Gogrial West, Aweil South, Melut, Gogrial East, Juba, Tonj North, Tonj South, Aweil West, Aweil East, Renk, Wau, Tonj North, Jur River, Yambio and Budi as well as Bentiu, Juba, Malakal and Wau Protection of Civilians sites.
Humanitarians have reported that the major factors for a measles outbreak in South Sudan are low vaccination coverage, malnutrition, population movements, and overcrowded internally displaced camps. The low coverage which was about 59 per cent, well below the desired thresholds of 90 to 95 per cent, was in turn, attributed to low access to basic healthcare, estimated at 44 per cent, and insecurity affecting health facilities.