South Sudan Issues Alert Over Cholera Outbreak in Unity State

At least one person has died from a Cholera outbreak with 31 others are battling the disease in South Sudan. Eight samples that were drawn from patients in Rubkona and Bentiu counties tested positive for the disease at the National Public Health Laboratory in Juba.

The patients exhibited symptoms such as watery diarrhoea, vomiting, and dehydration.

According to the Unity State Ministry of Health in South Sudan, a total of 31 cases, including one death, have been reported from Rubkona town and Bentiu IDP camp.

The initial confirmation of the disease was reported on April 14, prompting the Ministry of Health and partners to deploy a rapid response team to investigate the causes and support the state-level response.

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Earlier in January and March this year, two rounds of oral cholera vaccine were administered in 20 spots that had been identified across South Sudan.

But the Ministry of Health and partners are conducting further case mapping in the neighbourhoods to identify additional cholera cases following a steady rise in acute watery diarrhoea cases reported in both the Bentiu and Rubkona IDP camps and the host community.

The public is being urged not to panic but to remain calm and observe all the precautionary measures to prevent community transmission and spread in populations with inadequate access to safe drinking water, poor personal hygiene, and inadequate access to improved sanitation facilities.

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This is the first cholera outbreak in the country since 2017. The disease was last reported in 2017. According to UNICEF South Sudan’s report, the fatality rate for 2017 was higher than those in the previous three years, with at least 69 per cent of deaths occurring at the community level.

The report also established that factors that contributed to the high number of community deaths included poor treatment-seeking behaviour.

Such include the use of traditional medicine before seeking healthcare; low awareness about cholera; geographical inaccessibility of affected areas, where communities are also dispersed; poor communication in affected areas; and limited humanitarian partner presence.

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