By Charles K Mark
UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and the Government of Canada, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, handed over 80 motorcycles to strengthen immunization systems across the country.
UNICEF said in a statement seen by this outlet that the equipment will bolster the integration of COVID-19 into routine immunization and primary healthcare services across the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 an established and ongoing health issue in May, no longer a public health emergency of international concern.
But UNICEF said as nations pivot towards the long-term management of this virus alongside other infectious diseases, the integration of COVID-19 vaccinations into routine vaccination programs has become a priority.
“This equipment signifies our shared dedication to enhancing healthcare in South Sudan. With the continued support from the Government of Canada and the strong leadership of the Ministry of Health, we are now better equipped to ensure more efficient vaccine delivery and monitoring. The support for the healthcare system, paves the way for a healthier future for children and families in South Sudan” said Hamida Lasseko, the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.
The statement also added that Canada is also supporting the procurement of 90 solar refrigerators, improved vaccine storage capacity and community engagement activities to increase demand for immunization services.
It said the Government of Canada funded the 80 motorcycles which will be utilized by every County across the country to enhance the monitoring and supervision of immunization services, including the integration of the COVID-19 vaccine at health facilities.
The Canadian Ambassador-designate to South Sudan, Aly-Khan Rajani expressed “his sincere thanks to the government of Sudan, to UNICEF, and in particular to the frontline health care workers, who worked tirelessly to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and now through recovery and immunization catch up.”
He noted “The importance of key outreach tools, like these motorcycles, will help us work together to protect priority groups against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases and to be better prepared to face the crises of the future.”
He further expressed Canada’s pleasure “to support this initiative as it represents Canada’s larger commitment to support South Sudan’s health care system, as the provision of quality and accessible health care services, thereby improving health outcomes for all South Sudanese, which we all agree is critical to the economic and social development of South Sudan.”
UNICEF said COVID-19 vaccine coverage has significantly improved in South Sudan with 73% of the target population immunized.
However regular childhood immunization still requires ongoing efforts to ensure every child is immunized against preventable diseases, particularly as there are increasing numbers of unvaccinated children arriving from Sudan and outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles are on the rise.