Sudan Tribune 28 June 2017
June 27, 2017 (JUBA) – Lack of funds needed to train vaccinators caused the death of 16 children during the botched measles vaccination campaign in South Sudan, an official said on Tuesday.
“The measles campaign was carried out by UNICEF [UN Children’s Fund] with World Health Organisation and Ministry of Health. When we asked for funding to train nurses and volunteers who were to administer the vaccines, there was no funding from UNICEF,” Kapoeta state governor, Luis Lobong told the Council of States.
35 children, who received the measles vaccine, fell ill in Kapeota.
Last month, South Sudan’s health minister, Dr. Riek Gai Kok attributed the bizarre incident to what he described as typical “human error.”
However, while appearing before the country’s lawmakers on Tuesday, Gai explained that steps were being taken by the health ministry, WHO and UNICEF to ensure mistakes to do occur again.
“We regret the death of the fifteen children – who showed same symptoms after being vaccinated with measles. The health volunteers were not trained and they mistakenly used one syringe to vaccine many children. We sincerely extend our condolences to the families and the victims of this mistake,” said Gai.
Unconfirmed reports say children as young as 10 years participated as volunteers to administer measles vaccines in the botched campaigns in Kapoeta, despite lack of electric power to moderate the vaccine’s temperature as well as poor handling of medical sets.
South Sudanese lawmakers, however, demanded justice for families affected, yet some citizens wanted those officials concerned to be impeached for their alleged failure to provide proper leadership.
South Sudan is acknowledged to have some of the worst health indicators in the world.