17 September 2021, Juba - to improve capacity for coordination and communication to mitigate the risk of cross-border spread of disease and other public health threats, WHO with support from the Government of Japan has established and handed over a port health facility at the Juba International Airport to the Ministry of Health in South Sudan.
The international health regulations (IHR (2005)) mandate countries to designate, strengthen, and maintain capacities at points of entry to mitigate the risk of cross-border disease spread and preserve international public health security.
“Establishing a port health facility in Juba and other designated points of entry will help South Sudan to expand surveillance and response capacity to timely detect, assess, report and respond promptly and effectively to public health risks among international travelers at the frontiers, said Honorable Dr Victoria Anib Majur, Undersecretary, Ministry of Health. “I am grateful to the Government of Japan and WHO for the generous support” Honorable Dr Anib added.
Dr Anib urged the port health team at Juba International Airport to use the facility to the maximum and ensure that surveillance and public health measures are in place to protect travelers and ensure the people of South Sudan.
The Government of Japan, in partnership with the UN agencies, has supported South Sudan’s effort to combat COVID-19 and other diseases through various projects including construction and improvement of health facilities, provision of thermal scanners and medical supplies, and improvement of vaccine cold chain.
“Japan’s assistance to South Sudan through WHO will help in preventing the cross-border spread of COVID-19 and other diseases and accordingly saves more lives”, said H.E. Tsutsumi Naohiro, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of South Sudan.
Dr Fabian Ndenzako, the WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan noted that South Sudan has reached a significant milestone by establishing the Port Health facility at the Juba International Airport, in fulfilment of its obligation under the IHR (2005) and in line with the South Sudan National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) 2020-2024.
“I commend the Government of Japan for continued support to health system resilience and emergency preparedness in South Sudan,” said Dr Ndenzako, “WHO is also working with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to establish a similar port health facility at the border town of Nimule which is one of the main gateways into South Sudan,” Dr Ndenzako added.
The 2017 Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of national capacities underscored the need to strengthen the port health policy and governance framework. The JEE also recommended strengthening of IHR capacities for Juba International Airport (JIA) and other designated points of entry in Nimule and Renk.
Since August 2018, Juba International Airport, along with other points of entry have conducted screening for several diseases including yellow fever, Ebola virus disease, COVID-19, and other public health threats.
South Sudan has continually faced an increased risk of emerging diseases like Ebola virus, yellow fever, cholera, the ongoing COVID-19 and other diseases with a threat to international public health security due to cross-border diseases spread. To reduce their impact, WHO is working collaboratively with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to strengthen capacities for in-country and cross border surveillance and response within the framework of the integrated disease surveillance and response (IDSR). The IDSR is the core strategy for strengthening national disease surveillance systems in the WHO African Region and was approved by the Regional Committee in 1998.
Notes to editors: The International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR (2005) provide an overarching legal framework that defines countries’ rights and obligations in detecting, preventing, and responding to public health events and emergencies that have the potential to spread locally and cross borders. Under the IHR, States Parties are required to establish and maintain public health surveillance and response capacities at national, sub-national, and community levels and at designated points of entry to ensure that public health threats are locally contained rapidly to mitigate the risk of cross-border disease spread and minimize the risk to travel, trade, and public health security.
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