August 26, 2010 (BOR) – At least 56 people are dead and over 200 hospitalized in Ayod county of Jonglei state since a Kala-azar outbreak began in June, official records indicate.
- Hundreds of patients listen to Jonglei state officials visiting Ayod - 26.08.2010 (ST)
A two-roomed ward at a primary health care center (PHCC) in Ayod county’s headquarters has not been enough to cope with the daily increase in patients, Sudan Tribune witnessed on Thursday, while accompanying the Jonglei state ministry of health visit to Ayod county facilitated by United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).
Kala-azar, also known as visceral leishmaniasis, is common in the counties of Ayod, Fangak and Pigi in northern Jonglei state. The disease slows down the production of red blood cells as it attacks bone marrow and viscera such liver and spleen. It is transmitted by sand fly bites.
The symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, enlargement of liver, spleen and nodes.
Elderly people, children and mothers lie on the few beds in the wards and outside the health centre under trees. Sudan Tribune heard an elderly man complain of abdomen pain next to a woman breastfeeding a child with protruding ribs at the entrance to the ward.
The rooms and the entire compound of Ayod PHCC are full of malnourished people. The Kala-azar outbreak has displaced a substantial number of people to Ayod town based on the crowd that Sudan Tribune saw on Thursday.
Local health and government authorities say the combination of the Kala-azar and insufficient feeding of patients are fuelling the large numbers of people seeking help from the health centre described as “poorly serviced” by Ayod county commissioner Thoi Ruai Ret.
“The cases of Kala-azar are increasing drastically since June and this is worrying,” said Pricilla Wagare, a health official in Ayod. Mrs. Wagare warns that, “the scientific increment of Kala-azar cases is in October and November. This is just the beginning.”
“We are trying our best but the magnitude of this disease and poor services offered in health units make no change,” Mr. Ruai said when asked what the assistance are doing to counteract the outbreak.
Jonglei state minister of health, Rodentia Ayen Alphorns, said the state government is following Kala-azar cases in Ayod, Fangak and Pigi keenly. She called upon humanitarian organizations to offer assistance.
In a related development, 42 villages are affected by flooding in Ayod, according to document release by Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC).
From the UNMIS helicopter that took your correspondent to Ayod it is clear to see that water has surrounded huts in Duk and Ayod counties.
Local officials say that crops and domestic animals, which are livelihood of people in Jonglei, are under threat.