MoH And WHO Lay Foundations To Scale Up Fight Against Neglected Tropical Diseases in South Sudan

“…..NTDs have been neglected in the past and have collectively caused untold hardships and misery to millions of people globally especially in South Sudan and Sub-Saharan Africa at large”

A camp in South Sudan. [Photo| Ben Curtis/AP]

By Jok P Mayom

JUBA, 31 March 2016 [Gurtong]- South Sudan’s Ministry of Health (MoH) in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) laid foundations to scale up the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020 in the country.

Following the launch of the Master Plan in December 2015, the Ministry of Health and WHO this year completed the nationwide training of NTD mapping and has embarked on a national mapping exercise that commences with mapping of 31 Counties in the first phase.

The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) mapping exercise for Schistosomiasis (SCH), Soil Transmitted Helminth (STH) and Lymphatic Filiriasis (LF) was done in Juba between February and March 2016.

“Appropriate targeting of treatments requires scientific evidence based on information on the geographical distribution and prevalence of infection in order to identify high-risk areas that might benefit most from integrated control” said Dr John Rumunu, Director General of
Communicable Diseases and Public Health at the MoH.

Due to the highest burden of NTDs in the country, regional capacity in NTD control will be an important factor in ensuring success of the national program scale-up.

“Integrated mapping has several advantages over disease specific mapping by reducing costs and enabling co-endemic areas to be more precisely identified” said Mr Evans Liyosi, Focal Point for NTDs at WHO South Sudan.

Dr Senkwe Mutale, the WHO IST Harare Mapping Technical Officer appreciated the trained participant’s interest and commitment to make good use of the opportunity to acquire skills in the use of available mapping tools to enhance the NTD control activities.

Mutale said the exercise involves the sensitization and participation of the Ministry of Education, school teachers as well as community leaders.

“…..NTDs have been neglected in the past and have collectively caused untold hardships and misery to millions of people globally especially in South Sudan and Sub-Saharan Africa at large”  said WHO officials.

The mapping exercise is part of the global 2020 Neglected Tropical Disease Goals aimed at accelerating work in all countries to overcome the global elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The MoH, supported by the WHO through provision of necessary financial and logistics support to conduct the exercise in the 31 Counties raised and trained 10 teams for the mapping exercises.

The trained teams, supported by technical experts spent four weeks in the field mapping of Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminths and Lymphatic Filariasis in 31 Counties to determine the incidence, prevalence and the geographical distribution of these diseases.

According to the officials, all confirmed positive cases will be treated on site. The outcome of this mapping exercise will provide scientific evidence on the prevalence of the three diseases and provide guidance on the type of interventions to put in place.

The outcome of the exercise will also be used to lobby for funding and partnerships to scale up interventions for elimination of STH, SCH and LF in line with the 2020 global targets for elimination of PC-NTDs.

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