March 27, 2017 (BENTIU) - For women like Nyayien, who has lived at the protection of civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu in South Sudan’s Unity state since May 2016, diseases are so rampant that they often become more severe with the strain of displacement.
- IOM offers maternal care for mothers in Bentiu ( Photo IOM)
“I walked five days from my home in Koch with little food for the long journey. I was already feeling sick before I left; I was treated for malaria before I left but my cough persisted,” says Nyayien.
However, by the time she reached the PoC site, she was severely depleted.
Consequently, Nyayien was quickly referred to the International Organisation for Migratio (IOM) clinic, where technicians operate a Tuberculosis (TB) testing and treatment laboratory. After she tested positive, she immediately began a six-month treatment, which involves daily visits to the IOM clinic for two months and then weekly for the next four months.
“I successfully completed my treatment thanks to my sister’s support and the good counselling given to me by IOM staff. They both gave me strength while coping up with treatment,” she said.
While sick, she worried that she would not be able support her family and was concerned about spreading the disease, as she lived with 12 family members in one single shelter. With good hygiene habits, she was able to mitigate this risk and is now feeling well enough to begin contributing financially to her household.
Communicable diseases, such as TB, present huge risks to communities living in crowded displacement sites or on the run from conflict in South Sudan.
IOM health promoters canvas the site every day, urging IDPs with TB symptoms to not be apprehensive to visit health care providers in the site, as TB is a curable disease with consistent treatment.
Since IOM opened the TB treatment centre in January 2016, over 200 people have tested positive and begun the directly observed treatment course, with over 60 TB patients have successfully completed the treatment.
With over 118,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in the PoC site, the spread of TB is a major concern for public health.
“Aggressive health and hygiene messaging, along with timely medical care, are absolutely critical to mitigating the spread of the disease and reducing the stigma,” IOM said in a statement.
The agency is currently also offering TB testing and treatment for communities in Bentiu town as well as in its surrounding areas.
TB is the second leading killer disease in the world, world health statistics show.