The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization has declared an outbreak of cholera in Juba, South Sudan. This declaration follows reports of 18 suspected cholera cases including one death and one laboratory confirmed case on 6th May 2014 of an IDP who got sick in Gudele and was brought to UN House IDP camp following tests conducted by the AMREF laboratory in Nairobi.
The declaration was made by the Minister of Health, Republic of South Sudan, Dr Reik Gai Kok in a press conference held at the Ministerial boardroom in Juba. Speaking to the media, Dr Reik, assured the people of South Sudan of governments commitment to interrupt the transmission of cholera in Juba. “The Ministry of Health is aware of the appalling conditions of the IDPs in the camps namely; overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation conditions favorable for a potential cholera outbreak, however the Ministry is working with health and WASH cluster partners on ground to ensure that the risk of the outbreak spreading is minimized”, said Dr Reik.
He added that the Ministry of Health together with WHO have taken steps to conduct investigations and have ensured that every case on ground is followed.
On his part, Dr Abdi Aden Mohamed, the WHO Country Representative for South Sudan, reiterated WHO’s commitment to support the Ministry of Health in strengthening disease surveillance and response, coordination, provision of medical supplies for cases management, laboratory through collection, transportation and follow up of specimen. Dr Abdi said,“ WHO has already prepositioned medical supplies including those needed for cholera management in all the 10 states of South Sudan, we shall continue to work closely with the government of South Sudan and partners to control the spread of cholera”. Dr Abdi stated that no case of Cholera has been reported from the IDPs camps in Juba and urged the communities to practice good and safe behaviours such us consistent hand washing, use of latrines and proper handling of food throughout the outbreak season.
The Under Secretary, the Ministry of Health, Dr Makur Matur Koriom, urged the public not to panic but remain calm and observe all the precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak. He emphasised the fact that cholera is a very dangerous disease, but is preventable.
The press conference was attended by among other high level government officials, the Mayor of Juba City, State Minsters of Health from Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Central Equatoria States, and the Director General of Juba Teaching Hospital where the Control Treatment Centre is currently based.
With the support of WHO, over 80,000 people have been fully vaccinated against cholera with two doses in four internally displaced People’s camps in UN House Juba III, Tomping IDP camp, Mingkaman and Malakal with more coverage expected in Bor where the first round has already happened. Plans are in also in place for Bentiu OCV campaign. It’s important to note that, the confirmed case had only received one doze of the cholera vaccine.
The Ministry with the support of WHO has also reactivated a national and a state cholera taskforce to coordinate all response interventions, heighten surveillance IDPs camps and at community levels (host communities), and has reactivated state taskforces. WHO is also supporting the State Ministries of Health response team for any potential outbreak and is actively engaged in social mobilization.