High cost of vaccines complicates crisis response in South Sudan

Monday, June 23, 2014

In the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan, humanitarian aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) could not provide thousands of children with a life-saving vaccine last year, as it had hoped to do—not because of a lack of syringes or medical personnel—but, because the vaccine price was too high.

This year, South Sudanese children are continuing to go without vaccinations. That’s because for over a year, MSF has been at the negotiating table with British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline over lowering the price of the new pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), but the company hasn’t budged. The PCV vaccine can prevent infectious diseases like pneumonia, which is problematic in overcrowded refugee camps like Yida, where over 70,000 people live on a patch of land less than 5 square miles. Its lack of affordability is just one challenge faced by the organization in this volatile region, where a recent attack by the Sudanese government struck a village, hitting an MSF-run hospital and wounding six people.

South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, descended into crisis last December when a political dispute broke out between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy president, Riek Machar. The nation has been in violent civil turmoil since. Last weekend, the UN appealed for $1 billion in aid to the nation, warning that some 50,000 children could die this year from the conflict. There are over one million people displaced in South Sudan and an estimated 240,000 refugees living in the country, in camps like Yida. Many of these people impacted by the regional chaos depend on MSF for their medical care.

Source: Global Post (link opens in a new window)

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