Posted by: davidjolson | 08/05/2011

We started! The first child in Sudan to receive a rotavirus vaccine

The first child in Sudan to be vaccinated against rotavirus drew a big crowd at Samir Health Center.

This is a guest blog by Dr. Amani Abdelmoniem Mustafa, manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunization for Sudan.

KHARTOUM, Sudan — The day that we were waiting for arrived. The children of Sudan have long suffered terrible, sometimes deadly, diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can save our children from so much suffering. After years of waiting, it was finally delivered to Sudan.

The first stop was the Khartoum International Airport. It was a great event.

The Martinair flight landed at 7:45 at night. The media with their cameras huddled in the non-permitted area where the flights land. They were accompanied by cars with generators to light up the runway. Those of us on Sudan’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) team crowded into the packed VIP hall. We had the challenging and exciting job of making sure this new vaccine travels the length and breadth of the country to reach all the children. At that moment, we wanted to be as close as possible to watch the vaccine coming to Sudan.

In the airport, everyone was asking, “Who is coming?”

It was a good question. Some of us said, “It is a force to fight back diarrhea in Sudanese children.” Others said, “It is Mrs. Health.”

Arrangements were made with the manager of the customs department to release the vaccine directly from under the flight. It was packed in three refrigerated vehicles and, accompanied by the convoy, moved directly to the central cold warehouse. There, the packages were unloaded and checked. Everything had arrived safely. At last, the vaccine was in our hands.

Nineteen days later, on July 17, the EPI team arrived early at the Ministry of Health. Wearing special green uniforms to honor the day, they looked like children at a festival. It was a day of festivities — it was launching day for the rotavirus vaccine.

The team distributed sweets and educational notes about the vaccine to Ministry of Health staff who came out of their offices when they heard music. The official military band circled the Ministry of Health inside and out to attract everybody’s attention.

Then we all left in a big convoy for the official launching site at the Samir Health Center. Representatives from all the partner organizations who had contributed to this achievement came. His Excellency the Minister of Health arrived with His Excellency the President’s Advisor and Representative. Speeches were made and a special song sung about rotavirus.

Reporters from TV channels, radio stations and newspapers gathered around as the Minister of Health cut the ribbon to the entrance of the vaccination room. Inside, mothers and children were waiting.

The first child to be vaccinated was a boy named Jasir Tarig. His mother looked scared of all the people and the picture-taking. I asked her the age of her child. “He is 43 days,” she said proudly.

Without anybody noticing, I put my hand over Jasir’s head and recited some Quran statements that we Muslims say when we want to protect our children from harm. I prayed to God in my heart that the vaccine would keep him well. I prayed that the vaccine would give health and protection to all our children.

The baby was so calm and beautiful as the President’s Advisor gave him his rotavirus vaccination. We congratulated his mother and wished that the boy would be the first in his school, too.

Truly, the arrival of the rotavirus vaccine recharged our spirits. It will keep our momentum high to continue with our efforts. Now I am thinking about the new vaccine against pneumonia. I hope it will come soon to protect our children from another deadly disease.

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Responses

  1. good work done ……………….we appreciate your work sir

    rxcare.co.in-connect for healthy society!

  2. [...] and African countries are beginning to demand this lifesaving tool. In July of this year, Sudan became the first country in Africa to introduce rotavirus vaccines nationwide with the support of [...]

  3. Diarrhea has been one of the most troublesome problems and has lead to many complications in numerous countries for children. With this new vaccine, it will bring a new shift in the health, growth and development, life expectancies, and mortality of children. As a future pediatric nurse, I can only begin to imagine how this vaccine will influence not just Sudan, but many other countries around the world facing the same problem. Children deserve to grow and flourish without facing harsh health difficulties, and this vaccine is just the beginning needed to make a change in the world.

  4. This blog entry was an eye-opener to the plight of children in Sudan due to rotavirus. The diarrhea caused by it can be deadly, and the children have not been vaccinated against this threat. The report of the first child to receive the vaccine in Sudan was wonderful to read: From the awaited arrival of the flight, to the journey to release the vaccine from the plane and make the trip to reach the Ministry of Health where the child was to be vaccinated, it was engaging and exciting to learn of the event. The first young boy to be vaccinated against the virus is the start of further projects to bring vaccinations against common diseases to the children of Sudan; To continue to provide necessary preventative care to these children is a worthy goal and I hope to see the continued progress in this area.

  5. This is wonderful news for the children and people of Sudan. It is fortunate that the children can receive a vaccine to prevent the harmful and sometimes deadly effects of diarrhea from the rotavirus. Rotavirus is easily spread among infants and young children and cleanliness and hand-washing alone don’t stop the transmission. It is very relieving to see that it is available to the children in Sudan. Great measures were taken for the delivery of this vaccine and thankfully it was properly delivered and effective. It’s very reassuring that now the children in Sudan will have access to this life-saving vaccine. Many congratulations to all who made it happen.

  6. Thank you for posting this blog. I found it truly inspiring to read about your accomplishments on such an important global health issue. I wish to congratulate everyone involved in making this a reality, because this is a promising advancement for problem solving the health disparities we face today. From reading your article, I can recognize it was a very successful event but what impressed me the most is that your initiative doesn’t stop here. I hope you will find my comment encouraging towards your efforts with the new vaccine against pneumonia and I am looking forward to reading your future endeavors.

  7. Thank you for posting this blog. I found it truly inspiring to read about your accomplishments on such an important global health issue. I wish to congratulate everyone involved in making this a reality, because shows a promising advancement for problem solving the health disparities we face today. From reading your posting, I can recognize it was a very successful event but what impressed me the most is that your initiative does not stop there. I hope you will find my comment encouraging towards your efforts with the new vaccine against pneumonia and I am looking forward to reading your future endeavors.

  8. Comments: I am delighted to hear that there is a vaccine available that will decrease the mortality rates of children. I applause the way the people were so appreciative for this new vaccine. I was also moved when the person administering the medication knew to rely on a source stronger than the vaccine and knew that prayer would help the children more.

  9. As a Group working in the African music industry “South Sudan, The Youngest Country Populist America” is of great interest to us
    well written thank you :-)

  10. [...] Amani Abdelmoniem Mustafa manages the Expanded Program on Immunization for Sudan. Read her blog on the launch of the rotavirus vaccine in Sudan this past July. Share this:StumbleUponDiggLike [...]


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