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South Sudan: the long trek to eradicate Polio

Volunteers across South Sudan are battling to eradicate polio among children under five in South Sudan, through a five-day “house to house” campaign.

The campaign is organized by the South Sudan health ministry, and Save the Children is supporting it by lending vehicles and in Mvolo county.

The effort is to catch the children who have not been vaccinated at a health centre or through an outreach programme.

Delivering polio vaccinations

To ensure that children get the two drops each of the polio vaccine, vaccinators must walk for long distances, where they find families eagerly waiting for them.

Villages are far apart and roads are very poor, so vaccinators have to trek long distances between each village on foot or by bicycle.

In Mvolo, Western Equatoria state, the mobile immunisation team shared their experience with me, of conducting house-to-house immunisation in the county.

Immunisation and access

“It is difficult for us to achieve full immunisation here in Mvolo County, because there is a big population that stays deep in the rural areas.

“They’re not easily accessible. In Lessi Payam, five of the villages are not reachable and this is a big challenge for us,” said County Health Officer William Dalli.

“I have no bicycle to move around when I am carrying out the immunisation, so I move on foot. It is very far because the families live far apart and I have to go to each family,” Asumpta Achol shares.

Those who have bicycles face challenges too, “I use my own bicycle, but when it breaks down, it becomes difficult for me to move. Even with the bicycle I get tired when I ride for the whole day,” says Manase Dogbanda.

Final push to eliminate crippling disease

Save the Children conducts vaccination against polio, measles and tetanus on a regular basis both at health facilities and in outreach programmes.

We also provide support to the annual nationwide immunization campaign, alongside World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

South Sudan is one of few remaining countries that still has a serious polio problem and the disease has crippled many children.

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