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One girl, and two simple vaccines

17 February 2020, Impact of Our Work

Spared from a killer disease through vaccination

Cholera can hit hard and suddenly. Within a few hours an infected person can lose enough fluid to stop their body functioning. Children are particularly vulnerable as dehydration can affect them a lot more quickly than adults. 

Cholera is caused by dirty drinking water or food and is rife in countries with poor sanitation and water treatment. In Sudan, recent heavy flooding contaminated the water many villages used for their daily drinking and bathing. Samara’s* village in Sennar was one of those affected. 

A family torn apart

Samara’s daughter, eight-year-old Layla was just starting her day when she fell ill. “Layla at the first call to prayer leaned over and lay flat. At the time of the second call to prayer, she immediately shouted ‘mummy, mummy I can’t stand on my feet.’” 

The nearest hospital is 90 minutes away, and hard to get to, but Samara rushed her daughter there immediately. “The hospital is difficult to reach. We carry our children in our hands and walk to the hospital on foot,” she said.

Layla underwent a 24-hour course of treatment to revive her. But while the immediate threat had passed, the danger wasn’t over. 

Photo: Sacha Myers / Save the Children

Two simple doses

Without a preventative vaccine to protect her from contracting the disease again, Layla wasn’t safe. 

Luckily, Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit was in the area responding to the emergency in Sennar, where there were fears nearly 13,000 people could have contracted the disease. Thanks to generous supporters, the EHU were able to open Cholera Treatment Centres, train health workers and provide vulnerable communities with cholera prevention kits as it rolled out the second round of a mass cholera vaccination campaign. 

Three years of safety

Just two doses of the oral vaccine is all it takes to protect a child like Layla for up to three years. 

Samara was again quick to act. “We heard the microphones shouting from yesterday (about the cholera vaccination campaign),” she said. Layla was vaccinated as part of the response that reached 165,000 Sudanese in just five days. 

With her daughter now safe, Samara has high hopes for her future. “I wish Layla wellness and health. Goodness and grace. Piety and faith. This is my wish in this world. For my children to live in pleasure.”

*Name has been changed 

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