December 12, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan is closer to eradicating the guinea worm disease in the country, top officials said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a guinea worn eradication evaluation symposium in the capital, Juba, First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai emphasised the need to strengthen existing mechanisms to prevent the disease from resurfacing since the country registered no case in the last one year.
"As we celebrate today I wish that you re-examine the teams, mechanisms and models that you have put today, so that we don’t have a resurface of this disease," said Gai.
Guinea-worm disease, according to World Health Organization (WHO) is caused by the parasitic worm Dracunculus medinensis. This worm is the largest of the tissue parasite affecting human beings.
He stressed the need to strengthen surveillance to prevent re-infection, improve public awareness and increase safe water to villages.
Minister of Health Riek Gai Kok said the latest success demonstrates the effective collaboration between government and partners like Carter Center, World Health Organization, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Program (WFP).
"I am pleased to announce that South Sudan has gone 12 months of zero cases of guinea worm disease since the last case was reported in November 2016," Kok said.
He said the health ministry is rolling out its county health initiative program to bridge gaps in access to basic health services for the majority of South Sudanese.
Kok added that this initiative will draw lessons from the successful community-based guinea worm eradication program.
"The implementation of the Boma initiative will also build synergies necessary to effectively take South Sudan across the finish line and be certified free of guinea worm disease and elimination of other neglected tropical diseases," he said.
According to the WHO, guinea worm is endemic in South Sudan, Ethiopia and Chad.