May 15, 2014 (KAMPALA) – South Sudan’s ministry of health is on high alert after one person died this week following an outbreak of cholera in the nation’s capital, Juba.
Eighteen suspected cases of cholera have been reported in the city and surrounding areas.
- A child receives an oral cholera vaccine dose at the UNMISS Tomping camp in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where tens of thousands of South Sudanese are living in makeshift shelters (Photo: Wendy van Amerongen/Medair)
South Sudanese health officials have launched a joint vaccination campaign with its aid partners, targeting communities in the Mingkaman, Malakal, Bor, Tomping and Juba 3 areas.
The start of South Sudan’s rainy season has dramatically raised the threat level of waterborne diseases for an estimated 86,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in protection sites at UN bases across the country, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said.
Aid agencies have warned that overcrowded conditions, as well as poor sanitation and hygiene facilities could lead to further outbreaks of disease.
IOM’s health unit is currently conducting oral cholera vaccination campaigns at UN sites across the country.
IOM’s Health Unit is reportedly responding to the threat by conducting oral Cholera vaccination campaigns in PoC sites, in close cooperation its health cluster partners.
The campaign got underway on 6 May in Jonglei state capital Bor, where some 2,862 IDPs were reportedly vaccinated, with the second phase earmarked to start on 20 May.
There are also plans to extend the vaccination campaign to Unity state capital Bentiu in coming days.
Conflict erupted in South Sudan five months ago, with ongoing violence and escalating tribal tensions displacing more than 1.3 million people.
Some have sought shelter at UN bases, while other have fled to neighbouring countries.
Aid agencies say thousands of people continue to live in fear and cut off from humanitarian assistance after fleeing in to the bush.
The health ministry has set up a national emergency taskforce to coordinate the humanitarian response to the crisis.
Cholera is an acute infectious disease caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium and can lead to death in severe cases or if left untreated.
Cholera is contracted through the ingestion of contaminated food and water and generally spreads in places with poor hygiene and sanitation.
Washing hands with soapy water after using the toilet, as well as avoiding raw, uncovered food and untreated water can help mitigate the risk of contracting the disease.
The ministry of health urged local people to seek medical treatment immediately should they experience any of the following symptoms: severe diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps or dehydration.
It has appealed to its aid partners for assistance in helping strengthen preventative measures against the deadly disease.
Areas in Juba affected by the outbreak include Gudele 2, Gudele 1, Juba Nabari, Jopa, Kator, Gabat, Mauna, Newsite, Nyakuron and Munuki Block A.