Around 70,000 refugees have been registered in Yida camp in South Sudan's Unity State, nine miles from the border with Sudan, since 2011. Most have arrived after fleeing the violent conflict in Sudan's Nuba Mountains.
During last year's rainy season, the mortality rate among young children in the camp rose well above the emergency threshold of two deaths per day per 10,000 people, mostly due to infectious diseases related to the camp's poor hygiene conditions, which were further exacerbated by the rains.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) determined that vaccinating children with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) could substantially reduce mortality in Yida. While MSF has been working since September 2012 to procure PCV, progress was hampered by lengthy negotiations and international legal procurement constraints. MSF did eventually obtain the vaccine at a reduced price, but delays have now pushed the planned vaccination into the logistically challenging rainy season.
This will be the first time that PCV is used in South Sudan and will be one of the first vaccines to be implemented in compliance with the new World Health Organization emergency vaccination recommendations.