Sudan: MSF helps to vaccinate 750,000 against yellow fever

2 Jan 2013
Press release

PRESS RELEASE: MSF assisted the Sudan Ministry of Health to carry out the first phase of a yellow fever vaccination campaign, targeting 2.2 million people in the region of Darfur.

The first phase of a yellow fever vaccination campaign, targeting 2.2 million people in the region of Darfur, ended on 4th December 2012. Launched by the Sudanese health authorities, the international, medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) brought medical and logistical assistance in an effort to prevent an epidemic.

The campaign resulted in the vaccination of over 750,000 people. “We had very little time to prepare,” said MSF’s Kevin Coppock. “Fortunately, this year we set up an emergency response programme.

Emergency teams mobilised

An internally displaced mother and her son sit beneath a mosquito net while being treated for malnutrition in Jebel Si, North Darfur. © Yuri Kozyrev

Within 24 hours we were able to mobilise emergency teams, drugs and medical supplies.” MSF supported the campaign in five localities in North and Central Darfur states, including Saraf Omra, Al Seraif, Wadi Salih, Azoum, and Zalinge.

With the Ministry of Health, MSF is currently tending to 68 patients suspected of having yellow fever in North Darfur. Joint medical teams have also treated 72 patients suspected of having yellow fever in Elgeniena hospital in West Darfur, and 62 patients in Zalinge hospital in Central Darfur.

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, so doctors focus on treating the symptoms of the disease, which include fever, jaundice and hemorrhage. Severe cases may lead to liver and kidney failure.

According to the World Health Organization, 50 percent of people infected with the most severe form of the disease will not survive. As of 19th December 2012, 836 suspected yellow fever cases have been reported in the Darfur region, with 168 deaths (Sudan Ministry of Health).

Immediate yellow fever vaccinations

Often yellow fever is endemic in remote areas, where health services are scarce, making it difficult for people to receive timely and effective treatment.

“Yellow fever can spread very quickly,” added MSF’s Francisco Otero. “It takes just one laboratory-confirmed case to call it an outbreak. To protect people at risk, immediate vaccination is crucial.”

The vaccination campaign targeted adults and children over the age of nine months. MSF is also providing drugs and medical supplies to assist case management to health services in Saraf Omra and Al Seraif, training vaccination and health promotion teams, and taking part in epidemiological surveillance.

MSF’s mobile team in Zalingi is conducting yellow fever active case detection, vector control and health education.

MSF in Sudan

Médecins Sans Frontières has been providing medical assistance to the people of Sudan since 1979. Currently, MSF is running medical activities in North, East and South Darfur states, and Al-Gedaref and Sennar states. MSF offers basic and specialist healthcare, and responds to medical emergencies as needed.

For more information on MSF's work in Sudan, visit our Focus Page