Hundreds of cholera cases have been reported in South Sudan in the last two weeks, leading to the death of 14 people.
The UN and its partners have responded by implementing a vaccination campaign aimed at reaching more than 14 000 people and creating rehydration and treatment centres, the UN reported on Wednesday.
“Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that causes massive loss of body fluids and can be deadly within hours if not adequately treated,” Dr Abdulmumini Usman, country representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for South Sudan, said in a press release.
The WHO is taking all the necessary control measures to support South Sudan’s health ministry in responding urgently to the situation, and putting an end to this outbreak, he added.
With the conditions favourable for transmission of cholera due to increased population displacement, overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation, this outbreak could further exacerbate an already weak health system which is also battling malnutrition, measles and malaria.
“The risk of further spread of diseases is a major concern. With the coming rains, it is realistic to expect an increase in malaria and water-borne diseases,” said Abdulmumini.
“Consequently, we can expect medical needs to increase in an environment where WHO and partners are already working hard to keep up with existing health needs.”
A National Cholera Taskforce, comprising the Ministry of Health, WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other partners, has been activated and is providing oversight and coordination for the response to the cholera outbreak.
To improve access to timely rehydration, UNICEF has supported the establishment of eight oral rehydration points.
WHO, along with the ministry of health and partners, was set to launch an oral cholera vaccination campaign from Tuesday at various sites, including communities in Gorom and Giada and special populations such as internally displaced people in Tomping, in order to reach more than 14 000 people.
Additionally, WHO and partners are supporting social mobilisation and community engagement activities.
WHO and partners have delivered supplies, including tents and cholera kits that provide treatment for 400 people.
To improve case detection and treatment of cholera, WHO has also distributed cholera preparedness and response guidelines.
With 4.4 million people in need of health assistance, funding is urgently needed to respond to the rising needs.
The South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan launched earlier this year requested $110 million, of which $31.3 million, or 29%, has been received.
Of this amount, WHO requires $17.5 million for this year, of which only $4.3 million has been received.
“We have this opportunity to save, improve and protect the health of millions of people before it gets worse,” said Abdulmumini.
“WHO is committed to containing the cholera outbreak in South Sudan, but without urgent funding, we cannot implement most of the planned interventions. We need donors and partners to urgently fund our operations.”
– African News Agency (ANA)