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Through the Back Door - Getting Vaccine Through a War Zone

Through the Back Door - Getting Vaccine Through a War Zone

In 1970, I was visited in Geneva by representatives of the Anyanya Resistance Movement—rebel forces who were active in southern Sudan. They said that smallpox was not present in their area, but they wanted the vaccine because they were afraid of smallpox being brought into the area by Ethiopian migrants.

When we asked how we could get vaccine to them, they said that they regularly took supplies from northern Uganda into Sudan, traveling on foot for seven to ten days through the forests. It was in everyone’s best interest that they have the vaccine—but the Sudanese government could not vaccinate in the rebel-controlled areas, and WHO could not provide vaccine to the Anyanya.

The dilemma was resolved by giving quantities of vaccine directly to the resistance movement’s leaders and recording the amount as “lost to inventory.” After the war ended in 1972, Sudanese staff found that there were surprisingly large numbers of vaccinated residents in the southern rural areas, but no cases.

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  • Joan Levin

    Chicago 03/27/2010 01:17:14 PM

    Sadly the important pioneering role of Dr. Karel Raska was overlooked in this article. You may read Dr. Alex Langmuir's appreciation of Dr. Raska and Dr. Henderson's addendum originally printed in 17 Intl. J. Epid. 491 (1988) at http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/17/3/491.pdf

  • Joan Levin

    Chicago 03/27/2010 01:25:33 PM

    Sadly the pioneering role of Dr. Karel Raska was overlooked in this article. Interested readers may learn more about this in Dr. Alex Langmuir's Appreciation and the Addendum by Dr. D. A. Henderson published in 17 Int. J. Epid. 491 (1988) and found online at http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/17/3/491.pdf .

  • JustinBeersons

    USA 04/13/2011 06:07:08 AM

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  • zeroxtrpo

    england 05/04/2011 10:50:23 PM

    Wow this information is great! Thanks this has helped me a lot! I'm sure your posts are one of the best out there! Always so accurate!

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