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Our Global Voices Posts

Strengthening Immunization in Challenging Settings

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Training cold chain mentees in solar direct drive fridges installation
Training cold chain mentees in solar direct drive fridges installation

Providing routine immunization services is a global public health priority to protect families and children from vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles, and cholera. In South Sudan, the world’s newest country, the need is enormous. Without vaccination, children and their communities may be vulnerable to preventable but deadly and disabling diseases. From 2008 to 2012, South Sudan experienced its largest polio outbreak.

In any setting, the challenges to providing routine immunization services can be immense; in South Sudan, these challenges are multiplied by extensive population movement, geographically difficult-to-reach areas, developing infrastructure, and limited human resources to support the national immunization program.

It may seem simple to give a vaccine to a child, but in fact, a strong immunization program requires effective community engagement, sufficient skilled staff, as well as the ability to transport vaccines at the right temperatures, detect disease outbreaks, and track the number of children who are being vaccinated. Immunization programs are complex, requiring strong partnership and a coordinated approach. In South Sudan, the country faces a huge shortage of trained staff to support immunization.

In 2015, to respond to this challenge, the South Sudan Ministry of Health (MOH)—in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) South Sudan and UNICEF South Sudan, and with technical support from the Global Immunization Division at CDC—developed a way forward to train and increase the number of skilled national staff in the immunization program. The plan aimed to train 56 South Sudanese over the course of three years to strengthen the immunization program at the national and state levels. At the end of the three years, it is hoped that the successful candidates will be absorbed by the South Sudan MOH, to better protect its citizens from outbreaks associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.

Engaging Community Leader on Immunization
Engaging Community Leader on Immunization

To date, the program has recruited 56 mentees at the national and state levels. At the national level, mentorship is provided by the Ministry of Health, a Technical Advisor, and WHO South Sudan. Over the course of the past year, the eight mentees assigned at the national level have had solid achievements. For instance, national level mentees are gradually increasing their responsibility for immunization work that was initially supported by WHO South Sudan, a sign of increasing Ministry of Health ownership.

At the state level, the MOH State Immunization Managers, in collaboration with UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) consultants, and WHO Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) Program volunteers, provide mentorship and on-the-job training to 48 mentees who work across the country. Having mentees at the state level has fostered more detailed planning for upcoming supplementary immunization activities.

Despite the numerous challenges that exist in South Sudan, these collaborative efforts to strengthen the immunization program have begun to show what is possible. Increasing South Sudan MOH ownership has begun to foster a sense of confidence, pride, motivation, and hope for the immunization program throughout the country.

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Vaccines Work: Leaving No Child Behind – How Pediatricians Can Contribute to Global Vaccine Coverage

NEPAS 2017

In Nepal, pediatricians meet with a caregiver and frontline vaccinators to learn how pediatricians can more effectively advocate for vaccine access.   Today, more children are saved by vaccines than ever before, but over 19 million children are still missing out on these critical life-saving vaccines each year across the world (WHO, 2017). To put Read More >

Posted on by Guest blogger: Louis Z. Cooper, MD, FAAP, Past President, American Academy of PediatricsLeave a commentTags , , ,

The Road Ahead to Malaria Eradication

World Malaria Day arrives today with a theme that is equal parts ambition and aspiration—“End Malaria for Good.” It’s catchy and encapsulates a universal goal. It also compels us to take unflinching stock to understand where we are in the fight against this beguiling foe. And more importantly, what needs to change to end a Read More >

Posted on by Patrick Kachur, Chief, Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, CDCLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Looking Back With Pride….Looking Ahead With Confidence

A historical overview on eliminating Meningitis in Africa In the 1990’s epidemics of meningitis sweeping across the vast span of the African continent known as the “meningitis belt” were claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and there was not much the global public health community was able to do. We all knew that a vaccine Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Nancy Messonnier (CAPT, USPHS) Director for the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory DiseasesLeave a commentTags , , ,

Closer than Ever

Some of the world’s most accomplished disease experts—including several of my colleagues in CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria (DPDM)—are gathering in Geneva this week at the NTD Summit 2017. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of parasitic, bacterial, and viral diseases that cause illness and disability in more than 1.5 billion people Read More >

Posted on by CAPT Stephanie Bialek, Chief, Parasitic Diseases, Division of Parasitic Disease and MalariaLeave a commentTags , , , , , ,

Preventing Local Outbreaks from Becoming Global Pandemics: FETP Enhances Capabilities to Track Diseases and Stop Them at the Source


Christine Kihembo, FETP graduate from Uganda led a study in her country on Podoconiosis, a neglected tropical diseases that affects about 4 million people around the world. Above, the typical asymmetrical lymphedema (lower limb swelling) seen in podoconiosis. The skin on the affected limbs is thickened with warty and mossy nodules and toes are disfigured. Read More >

Posted on by David Sugerman, MD, MPH, FACEPLeave a commentTags ,

Heart Failure at Age 46?

Dotson E-80

nbsp; People often ask me what I enjoy most about the work I do. For me, it is the individuals we help to make healthier, those whose quality of care are directly impacted by the guidance we can give physicians. Recently, a physician in southern California contacted CDC about her patient, Jose. When Jose was Read More >

Posted on by Susan Montgomery, DVM, MPHLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Tick, tock, tick tock—While others sleep, what are CDC experts doing to keep America safe?

Children wait for a bus on a street in downtown Mysore, India. The CDC is carrying out a range of programs in India to ensure a healthy and safe future for kids like these. (Photo Courtesy: David Snyder CDC Foundation)

  As the clock ticks and people sleep peacefully, public health experts from CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP) in collaboration with subject matter experts across CDC both in Atlanta and around the world are working 24/7 to support the agency’s mission to protect the health and safety of Americans and save lives. Keeping Read More >

Posted on by Kashef Ijaz, MD, MPH - Director (Acting) Division of Global Health ProtectionLeave a commentTags

The Consequences of Contaminated Water

World Water Day March 22 2017

March 22 is World Water Day. CDC highlights the need for all people to have access to safe water, and to prevent sickness and death from waterborne diseases such as cholera. Read More >

Posted on by Adrienne Lefevre, MPH, CHESLeave a commentTags , , , , , , , , , ,

Yellow Fever Vaccination Response

In December 2015, a yellow fever outbreak started in Angola and quickly spread within the country and to its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Laboratory testing confirmed 962 cases, but there were thousands of suspected cases, making this the largest reported outbreak in 30 years. A critical aspect to yellow fever outbreak response Read More >

Posted on by Kimberley Fox, MD, MPH, Immunizations Systems Branch Chief, Global Immunization DivisionLeave a commentTags , , , , ,