By Jok P Mayom
JUBA, 16 March 2016 [Gurtong]- Dr. Riek Gai Kok, the National Minister of Health addressed the press upon his return from Atlanta, America where he participated in the global conference of the guinea worm eradication program.
“I went to Atlanta, to review the status of Guinea worm eradication program globally so South Sudan as one of the endemic countries that has not yet eradicated the guinea worm was invited to attend ATS meeting of managers of guinea worm in the world” said Dr. Gai.
“There has never been reported case of guinea worm in the dog but the report of South Sudan was highly appreciated by His Excellency President Carter and the entire meeting of the guinea worm” he said.
Dr. Gai further stated that a significant reduction was made in South Sudan in which the number of cases reduced from 70 in 2014 to only 5 in 2015.
“…..In 2014, the numbers of cases were 70 and in 2015 it reduced to only 5 cases. This year up to date we have not reported any case and we hope by the end of 2016, South Sudan will report zero guinea worm case.” Said Gai.
He said eight countries participated in the meeting which was held in Atlanta in which four of
them reported cases in 2015 and four did not report any case for the last three years.
“Now we have come back with the full commitment that the government and the communities in the five villages where there were report of cases of guinea worm we are going to double our effort to see into it that this year we report zero cases in the Republic of South Sudan that is the political commitment from the highest office headed by His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit and all our partners who participated” said the Minister.
“We have come back very happy, satisfied with the appreciation that we received from the conference” he said.
South Sudan Health Minster said Jimmy Carter personally assured the meeting that he will commit to giving resources and that by April he will send his representative Dr. Ernesto to South Sudan to visit areas like Wulu and Kapoeta where the disease is endemic.
The Center for Guinea Worm Eradication said that South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program reported 70 cases January-December 2014 compared to 113 cases for the same period in 2013, a reduction of 38 percent.
This was a remarkable success in light of political and ethnic hostilities that broke out in December 2013 and spilled over into early 2014.
Even given circumstances of unrest and an isolated outbreak (accounting for the majority of South Sudan's 2014 cases), the program continued to function at a high level by reducing and containing cases.
Since 2006, the overall number of Guinea worm cases in South Sudan has been reduced by more than 99 percent. Continued efforts towards improved peace and stability will be vital to the surveillance and supervision necessary to reach the ultimate goal of eradication.