Aquil Bol Mallien, mother of twins at an MSF clinic in South Sudan.
Feature story |

South Sudan: A mother's struggle to vaccinate her baby

Photograph by MSF
Aquil Bol Mallien, mother of twins at an MSF clinic in South Sudan. Photograph by MSF

To fully vaccinate a child with the basic package of immunisations – called the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) – infants must be brought to a health facility at least five times within their first year of life.

Sitting in the waiting room of MSF's Aweil Civil Hospital (ACH) in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, South Sudan, Aguil Bol Mallien explains the challenges she faces when bringing her twin babies to be vaccinated.

“Two and half months ago, I delivered my twins here at ACH. This was the first time I've delivered in hospital as my other four children, aged between four and ten, were all delivered at home. I live in Maper Akot and the only way for me to reach ACH is on foot. This trip takes more than an hour. There is public transportation, but it is too expensive for my family.

When I delivered my twins with MSF, they received their first vaccines before we went home. And although I knew I was meant to bring them back for their next inoculation after six weeks, I was unable to travel to the hospital on time. Today, ten weeks later, I have made it to the hospital. It's hard for me to carry my twins over the long distance but I know how important the vaccines are in order for my babies to be healthy, so I got my eldest child to help me. Although I want to come to hospital when I'm supposed to, it is not always possible. None of my other children have received any vaccines, so I know this is an important opportunity.”