Maria Nilsson, Swedish Red Cross
The South Sudan Red Cross is mobilizing volunteers in the wake of a cholera outbreak which, to date, has claimed 14 lives in the capital city of Juba. More than 100 trained volunteers are going from house to house in affected areas and informing families about cholera, how they can protect themselves against the disease, and what to do in the event a family member falls sick.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection and is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. To date, there have been at least 315 confirmed cases.
Red Cross volunteers are distributing oral rehydration salts to prevent dehydration resulting from diarrhoea and vomiting as a result of cholera. Families are also receiving purification tablets and solutions so they can treat their drinking water, and soap to encourage hand washing.
“Many people in Juba drink water which comes directly from the river Nile, delivered to them by water tankers. People also have poor sanitation practices. This has led to the cholera outbreak,” says Veronica Kenyi, health manager, South Sudan Red Cross. “We have already mobilized more than 100 volunteers, but we need to increase the number of volunteers in Juba. We are also considering other locations outside of Juba, importantly along the Nile, since we fear further areas could be affected.”
South Sudan Red Cross is a member of the national and state task forces on cholera, and participates in coordination meetings concerning water, sanitation, hygiene and social mobilization to ensure maximum impact of the support provided.
“We are coordinating with our partners, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and are now in the process of developing a three-month plan for the response,” added Kenyi.
During the first three days of social mobilization, South Sudan Red Cross volunteers visited 1,133 households in residential areas in Juba. In the coming days, the response will be scaled up to reach more households with the aim of curbing the spread of cholera. The Swedish Red Cross Society is supporting the National Society in its response to the outbreak.