Amref Health Africa, with support from the Core Group-funded Polio Eradication Project in South Sudan and the Ministry of Health Central Equatorial State, held a cross-border collaborative meeting to discuss eradicating polio. The cross-border meeting took, place in Kaya County and was attended by representatives from neighbouring districts of Koboko and Arua in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda respectively.
In his remarks to officially open the meeting, Morobo Commissioner Hon Moses Soro noted that “diseases have no borders”. He added that collaboration was important between South Sudan, Uganda and the DRC because people constantly moved across borders and it was impossible to control them.
The main objectives of the meeting were to share information between the bordering countries on the status of polio eradication activities; to identify migrant, mobile and hard-to-reach populations along the South Sudan-Uganda-DRC borders and agree on strategies of how they can be reached; to discuss mechanisms of strengthening surveillance and addressing population immunity gaps along the borders; and to strengthen advocacy, communication and social mobilisation for polio eradication along the border areas.
Following the discussions, a plan of action was agreed upon by the participating countries to strengthen implementation of synchronised immunisation activities and disease surveillance. The plan includes intensification of active case searches, particularly along the borders, and increased delivery of immunisation services to populations in hard-to-reach areas.
Although global indicators show a decline on polio cases, South Sudan is still at risk. While neighbour Kenya reported 14 cases in 2013 and Somalia up to 194, South Sudan reported 64 cases in 2008 and 2009. The latest case was reported in June 2009. However, the current political crisis that has caused displacement of over 1.5million people builds up risks for polio in South Sudan.
Amref Health Africa is the implementing partner for the Polio Eradication Project in Morobo. The project seeks to strengthen routine immunisation services in the county and improve case detection by strengthening community involvement.