South Sudan, the World Bank, and two UN agencies on Saturday kicked off a COVID-19 vaccine campaign following the arrival of 3.9 million vaccine doses into the country.
Yolanda Awel Deng, Minister of Health of South Sudan said vaccination coverage remains low in the country and the country-wide campaign aims to reach the 70 percent target.
She said these extra resources will enable South Sudan to strengthen its health system preparedness and help address urgent health and nutrition needs.
The minister said teams of health professionals and community mobilizers are working across 80 counties over the next three months to engage with leaders and communities to administer COVID-19 vaccines for all people aged 18 and above.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccination campaign is part of the additional financing of 200 million U.S. dollars from the World Bank, aimed at improving capacity to respond to COVID-19 and providing essential health service delivery.
World Bank Country Manager Firas Raad said additional financing and the campaign will help the government address challenges in both the procurement and deployment of vaccines across the country.
Raad said the financing will also strengthen South Sudan's disease surveillance systems, laboratory capacity, and overall emergency preparedness at the national and sub-national levels.
Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative for South Sudan said the provision of COVID-19 vaccines to the people of South Sudan contributes to the equitable access to vaccines that are required to effectively respond to this pandemic.
The floods as well as violence in some parts of the country have hampered COVID-19 and regular childhood vaccine deployment efforts as well as access to health services - increasing risks of social exclusion, particularly for those living in remote, conflict, and flood-affected areas, according to the UN.
Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan said the partnership allows UNICEF to reach women and children in some of the hardest-to-reach communities in South Sudan and provide critical access to basic health services and ensure COVID-19 vaccination coverage -- enabling their right to survival and health.