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S. Sudan: Over 120 health workers trained on cholera prevention

August 4, 2019 (JUBA) - Over 120 health workers in South Sudan have in the past week been trained to keep the country free from cholera.

A child receives an oral cholera vaccine dose in the South Sudan capital, Juba (Medair Photo)

With support from World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), South Sudan’s health ministry has trained health workers and rapid response teams on cholera case investigation and management, cholera sample testing and management, risk communication and community engagement, improving access to safe water and improved sanitation.

“Cholera is a diarrhoeal disease and may quickly cause dangerous fluid loss and can be deadly within hours if treatment is delayed,” said Dr. Pinyi Nyimol Mawien, the director general for preventive health services at South Sudan’s health ministry.

“Early detection and treatment is key to saving lives, therefore it is important that all health workers have this knowledge,” he added.

Cholera is endemic in South Sudan with frequent seasonal outbreaks. The last reported outbreak started in June 2016 and was declared over in February 2018.

“The fact that there was no cholera case reported during the last rainy season shows the true power of prevention and teamwork,” said Dr. Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan.

“We need to continue along this path and push for a strategic shift from response to prevention across all relevant sectors, only then can we eliminate the disease which remains a serious health threat,” he added.

In South Sudan, only 50% of the populations have access to clean water, and only 10% have access to improved sanitation. Among displaced people in makeshift camps and communities, the coverage is even lower, putting them more at risk.

“Access to clean water is a game changer in the battle against cholera. Together with promotion of good hygiene practices such as hand washing, we can prevent children and their families from getting sick,” said Andrea Suley from UNICEF South Sudan.

South Sudan says it is committed to eliminating predictable cholera epidemics and has endorsed the global road map of attaining a 90% reduction of cholera deaths by 2030.

(ST)