Juba, 22 May 2018 - Following the Ebola outbreak that has been declared in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a high level mission comprised of Ministry of Health (MOH) in the Republic of South Sudan and WHO visited Yambio, former Western Equatoria State on a sensitization campaign.
The sensitization campaign against Ebola followed an earlier press conference held in Juba to enhance efforts to prevent Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country.
The mission led by Honorable Dr Riek Gai Kok, the Minister of Health updated the governor of the state, cabinets, members of the parliament, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community based organizations (CBOs) and the general public on the basics of the disease, how it is transmitted and the preventive measures that can be taken such as sensitizing the community through mobile messaging and ongoing TV, radio and print mass traditional and non-traditional communication campaigns. The team also visited health facilities to acquaint themselves with preparedness for case management.
“The Ministry of Health is increasingly concerned about the situation in DRC and is working in Gbudue, Tambura, Maridi and Yei River states alongside their respective state health ministries, both to train medical staff on preventive measures and supply medical equipment for hospitals”, said Dr Riek Gai Kok, the Minister of Health in South Sudan. Key to our response is training community health workers to recognize the symptoms of the virus and refer potential cases for immediate medical care, Dr Kok highlighted.
South Sudan’s history of previous EVD outbreaks, global travel of people and the former Western Equatoria’s proximity to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which have reported Ebola constitute risk factors for the country.
“Although no cases of EVD have been reported in South Sudan, the outbreak in DRC is of concern as it places the country at greater risk,” said Dr Argata Guracha Guyo, Emergency Coordinator for WHO South Sudan.
Speaking at the press conference to update the media on Ebola and the sensitization campaign in Yambio, both Dr Guracha and Dr Kok outlined a raft of measures taken with support from WHO to prevent the entry and spread of the EVD into South Sudan.
The measures that are already in place to step up the prevention and preparedness includes: a multi-sectoral Ebola Preparedness and Response Task Force to coordinate preparedness and risk monitoring activities activated; the Ebola contingency plan is being updated to strengthen readiness capacities; Surveillance officers at points of entry have been alerted and supported to enhance surveillance and early detection of cases; social mobilization and risk communication messages and materials have been shared out to enhance public awareness and sensitize the community to report all rumors and suspected cases; Emergency kits including Personal Protection Equipment’s (PPEs) have also been prepositioned to facilitate suspect case investigation and response
EVD is a deadly disease currently affecting DRC. As of 16 May 2018, a total of 45 new cases of EVD and 25 deaths (case fatality rate = 56%) have been reported from three health zones in Equateur Province.
The Ebola virus disease can only be passed on by direct contact with bodily fluids of an affected person or animal (such as urine, sweat or blood); therefore raising community awareness about the disease can stop an Ebola outbreak - so that people understand how the virus is transmitted, recognize the symptoms of those who are infected and are empowered to take action to prevent the spread.