South Sudan: 15 children die in botched vaccine campaign

Fifteen children died in a South Sudanese village after being administered with contaminated measles vaccines

Fifteen children died in a South Sudanese village after being administered with contaminated measles vaccines

Fifteen young children have died in a botched measles vaccination campaign that saw people as young as 12 years old administering the vaccines, South Sudan's government announced Friday.

The country's health ministry has blamed the deaths on human error, and is setting up a commission to determine who is responsible.

"A single reconstitution syringe was used for multiple vaccine vials for the entire four days of the campaign instead of being discarded after single use", Kok said, referring to the device used to mix vaccines before injecting them with a separate syringe.

More than three years of civil war has punctured an already fragile health system in South Sudan, leading to a rise in preventable diseases like malaria, measles and cholera. There were plans to vaccinate around 300 children in the area.

The World Health Organization said it continued with the campaign after learning about the deaths because of its "lifesaving" effects on others, Sky News reported. There is a question on whether a qualified health care worker was on the scene nor is it clear if any United Nations officials were on the scene at the time of the incident.

The minister said his ministry was investigating whether the team that vaccinated the children were qualified or trained for the immunisation campaign. There was no evidence that WHO-approved immunization safety standards were being used.

A malnourished child sits on a bed May 30 at the clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Aweil, Northern Bahr al Ghazal, South Sudan.

The country has been embroiled in a civil war for three years, which has killed thousands and sent nearly two million refugees fleeing the country.

According to data from the World Health Organization, more than 1,600 measles cases have been reported across the country since the start of 2016.

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