The Sudanese Health Ministry has raised the level of alert in its disease monitoring system to prevent the transmission of cholera from South Sudan.
“The federal Ministry of Health has further adopted a package of precautionary measures to prevent transmission of cholera to Sudan’s border states,” State Minister of Health Somaya Idris Osman told the government-linked Sudan Media Center in Khartoum on Sunday.
Osman affirmed that no case of acute watery diarrhoea has been reported so far in any of the states bordering South Sudan.
She further said that an emergency room has been set up for the border states, to report any suspected case of cholera, stressing the importance of “dealing instantly with all reported cases”.
The influx of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan continues to grow, to the extent that the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has called it “an emergency within an emergency”. OCHA Sudan reported on 5 July that the total number of South Sudanese arrivals in Sudan reached 187,747.
More than 38,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in White Nile, South Kordofan, West Kordofan, and Khartoum states during the month of June, marking the largest monthly arrival rate to Sudan since fighting broke out in December 2013.
On 23 June, South Sudanese Health Minister Riek Gai declared an outbreak of cholera, after more than 171 suspected cholera cases were recorded, including 18 deaths.
Gai said that the South Sudanese capital has one operational cholera treatment centre, at the Juba Teaching Hospital. The Ministry would wait to see if it would be necessary to open more treatment centres in other locations.
Last week, Doctor Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) last week opened a cholera treatment centre in Munuki, a suburb of the South Sudanese capital, after the number of cholera cases in Juba had reached 733, with 33 deaths so far recorded. More than 60 cases were reportedly registered in Jonglei state, according to the South Sudanese Health Ministry.
Immediately after the epidemic was announced, the South Sudanese Red Cross and Red Crescent partners activated the Movement Cholera Task Force to respond to the outbreak in Juba County, and to plan for other states that are prone to cholera outbreak, such as Torit and Greater Upper Nile.
A social mobilisation campaign was started to educate people on cholera prevention, by conducting house-to-house visits and promoting hygiene awareness in affected communities in Juba County, as cholera is an acute intestinal infection that is most often spread by contaminated water or food.
Unicef has urged the donor community to provide financial aid needed for the extension of health services in the country, saying there is an urgent need for $4.6 million to fund an emergency cholera response for six months.
(Sudan Tribune, Radio Tamazuj, Xinhua, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies)