By Philip Thon Aleu
October 22, 2009 (BOR) – Health authorities in Jonglei state today said cases of bilharzias outbreak have increased in the last two weeks with unknown deaths and at least 150 people hospitalized.
Speaking to the Sudan Tribune on Thursday, Arnold Marial Machuor, the state health ministry director general, indicates that greater Fangak in northern Jonglei is severely hit by bilharzias on one hand and hunger on the other.
"There are 150 cases [of bilharzias] in Fangak area," Mr. Marial said adding "with increasing patients [in the health unit] there is also a problem of food shortage [to feed patients]."
At least 15 death cases have been reported but state health ministry could not verify the figures.
Bilharzias, also known as Schistosomiasis, or snail fever, is a primarily tropical parasitic disease caused by the larvae of one or more of five types of flatworms or blood flukes known as schistosomes. Although it has a low mortality rate, bilharzias often is a chronic illness that can damage internal organs and, in children, impair growth and cognitive development.
The disease has a long history of killing people in Upper Nile region including the recent affected areas but spread almost in every corner of southern Sudan during the war given less medical attention provided by the government in Khartoum then. An outbreak in 1988 – during the north-south war, left hundreds of people dead in Duar and Leer areas of Unity state, Mr. Marial explained.
With help of MSF—Holland operating in greater Fangak, South Sudan and Jonglei state governments, co-ordinations to send sufficient drugs and relief services are underway.