This article was last updated on May 26, 2022
Addressing the health cluster meeting on Tuesday, South Sudan’s health minister Dr Riek Kok hailed the health organizations for working tirelessly in combating cholera since its outbreak was confirmed last week.
“Today, I have come here to thank you (Health partners). With your efforts, we have been able to save lives,” said Dr Kok. “Out of the six people we have lost (to cholera), only one died in a Cholera Treatment Centre. Cholera is a result of bad sanitation and to avoid it; we must work as a team.”
The minister urged health organizations working in Juba, Upper Nile and Jonglei states to increase health education, promotion and training on the bacterial disease.
He was accompanied by the Environment Minister Deng Deng Hoc Yai, Juba City Mayor Christopher Serafino and Sue Lautze, FAO Country Representative, who is also the UN deputy Humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan.
The Mayor also hailed donors and health partners, saying even though there are rising numbers of the infection; the death rate is being controlled by the efforts of the health actors.
On her part, Ms. Lautze extended the profound thanks of the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Ms Hilde F. Johnson to (health partners) for working tirelessly in the protection of civilians sites (POCs).
“We know there is cholera outbreak but this did not happen in the PoCs all because of you,” she said of the various health cluster members in South Sudan.
The Environment Minister however urged the health ministry, its partners and the citizens of Juba city to exert more efforts to contain cholera. “Cholera results from poor hygiene. I urge you and all the citizens of Juba to take all necessary steps to improve hygiene in Juba and the other cities in the country,” said Deng.
The cholera cases have since increased from just one death last week to over 18 suspected deaths in Juba, Upper Nile and Jonglei state.
According to the health minister, in Juba and surrounding areas, there been six deaths registered, with only one occurring at a CTC in Juba Teaching hospital.
Meanwhile, the country representative of IMA World Health William Clemmer said nine people in Upper Nile and three others in Jonglei have also reportedly died of suspected cholera.
Brief on Cholera
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by eating of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera. The main risk factors for cholera in Juba are: drinking of unboiled or untreated river water supplied by water tankers, poor latrine use, and eating foods sold on the roadside and at makeshift markets. Poor personal and community hygiene are a major barrier to public health. Open defecation and the consumption of water from unsafe sources (surface water-river and ponds) according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) remains high. Cholera was last reported in South Sudan in 2009.
These factors all continue to increase the susceptibility of the Juba community to contracting cholera.
The usual intervention strategy, in an outbreak, is to reduce deaths by ensuring prompt access to adequate treatment, and to control the spread of the disease by providing safe water, proper sanitation, and health education for improved hygiene and safe food handling practices by the community.