Juba, 16 July 2019 – On 15 July 2019, a high-level delegation led by Dr Makur Matur Kariom, Undersecretary, Ministry of Health and Mr Alain Noudehou, UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and comprising Ambassadors of donor countries, heads of United Nations (UN) agencies, , and Representatives of international non-governmental organizations visited Yei town.
The objective of the visit was to among others reassure local authorities of the continued support of the development partners and the one UN in South Sudan; secure sustained commitment of the local authorities to the EVD preparedness efforts and publicize in the national press key messages to the general public regarding Ebola preparedness.
South Sudan is one of the four priority one countries (Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda) prioritized by WHO to enhance preparedness and operational readiness based on the proximity to the outbreak area as well as the capacity to manage Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The risk of transmission of EVD into countries that share borders with DRC, including South Sudan, has been classified as “very high” by WHO. Cases of EVD have recently been confirmed in Uganda, Goma and in Ariwara, a town in DRC located just 70km from the border with South Sudan.
“Diseases such as Ebola dont respect boundaries, race or religion so all must ensure that they work together to prevent its cross border transmission into South Sudan”, said Mr Noudehou. He also reiterated the commitment of the UN to continue to support EVD preparedness in the country under the leadership of WHO.
As a priority one country for EVD preparedness, the Ministry of Health, National Task Force, WHO and partners are implementing the National EVD Preparedness Plan, including vaccinating front-line health workers, educating people about prevention and response measures, conducting screening at multiple locations to help with early detection of cases, training personnel in infection prevention and control as well as being preparing for safe and dignified burial processes if needed.
“Although South Sudan has not confirmed any EVD case, implementation of effective public health measures is critical to manage the risk posed by South Sudans complex humanitarian context, the history of previous (EVD) outbreaks, increasing global travel and proximity to DRC”, said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Country Representative to South Sudan.
At the end of the visit, the Governor of the state, the state Health Ministry and partners on the ground reiterated their commitment to intensify key interventions and increase public awareness by providing adequate information through all communication channels, religious and community leaders.
In his closing remarks, the Undersecretary, Dr Makur appreciated WHO and other partners for the strong partnership and support rendered to enhance capacities to effectively implement the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) and address the threats of EVD and other infectious diseases.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is one of the most fatal and highly infectious diseases known to the world. The on-going outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the second largest outbreak reported globally. As of 13 July 2019, 2 489 confirmed cases and 1 665 deaths have been reported.
WHO is working in Jubek, Gbudue, Tambura, Maridi, Torit, Wau and Yei River states alongside their respective state health ministries and partners to provide strategic public health leadership and support required to ensure that all the high-risk counties are operationally ready and prepared to implement timely and effective EVD risk mitigation, detection, and response measures.
Update on Ebola drug trial: two strong performers identified
The co-sponsors of the Ebola therapeutics trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have a..
The co-sponsors of the Ebola therapeutics trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have announced advances that will bring patients a better chance of survival. Two out of the four drugs being tested are more effective in treating Ebola. Moving forward, these are the only drugs that future patients will be treated with. Details of the changes are available in this WHO/NIAID/INRB release.
This WHO initiative is the first-ever multi-drug randomized control trial aimed at evaluating the safety and efficacy of four drugs used for treatment of Ebola patients. Initially developed as a multi-outbreak, multi-country study, PALM (“Together save lives”) was launched in November 2018. It is part of the emergency response in DRC, in collaboration with a broad alliance of partners, including the DRCs National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB), Ministry of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the United States National Institutes of Health, Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the International Medical Corps (IMC), and other organizations.
In addition to researching the best treatments for Ebola, other efforts by team members and partners in the field are also critical in impacting survival rates. Teams of epidemiologists and community members work with communities to identify cases and provide care as quickly as possible. The teams ensure contacts are vaccinated against the disease and that their health is monitored for three weeks. Active case finding, contact tracing, and community acceptance of these teams are vital to ending the outbreak.
WHO is committed to continuing to work closely with the ministries of health of DRC and neighboring countries, and other international partners to ensure the outbreak response remains robust and well-coordinated. We will continue to conduct rigorous research and incorporate findings into the Ebola outbreak response through a variety of prevention and control strategies.
In a first since 2014, vaccination campaign reaches 13 million children in Sudan including in newly accessible areas
KHARTOUM, 1 August 2019 – For the first time in five years, UNICEF and partners were able to reach n..
KHARTOUM, 1 August 2019 – For the first time in five years, UNICEF and partners were able to reach nearly 13 million children with vaccination in close cooperation with local health authorities and the World Health Organization including in areas where access was restricted for many years due to insecurity and conflict.
“We welcome the new window of access that allowed to vaccinate children in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. This will significantly reduce the risk of diseases spreading among children,” said UNICEF Representative in Sudan Abdullah Fadil
Kicking off in April, and despite ongoing socio-political uncertainty in the country, the campaign provided children under the age of 10 with vaccines against measles and polio combined with vitamin A supplement covering 18 states.
Measles is the third cause of mortality among infants in Sudan. While the country has not seen a case of polio for almost nine years, certain factors put it at considerable risk of poliovirus importation and outbreaks.
The risk of vaccine-preventable diseases among children in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States is high due to the decline in immunity due to insecurity and conflict in these areas.
Winning the hearts of communities fearful of Ebola
Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 24 June 2019 – “You cant take my son away because I know you..
Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 24 June 2019 – “You cant take my son away because I know you will go kill him. You will inject him with Ebola. Thats what everybody here knows.”
This response from an angry father, faced with the possibility that his son would be moved from a local hospital to an Ebola Treatment Centre, reflects the reality of containing an epidemic in an area where folklore, rumour and suspicion of outsiders abound.
For Dr. Ramses Kalumbi, Surveillance Team Leader for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Goma, reassuring his patients and their families is all in a days work. Empathy, patience and compassion are a vital part of the treatment offered by his team of doctors, psychologists and health workers.
The Ebola-affected city of Butembo, where the 27-year-old man has been working as a driver, is 350km away – an eight-hour journey by road. He had returned home to visit his family when he started to feel unwell.
Initial symptoms indicated malaria but his high fever and diarrhoea have rung alarm bells, and now he is terrified. So far, the tiered system of surveillance set up by the government and WHO have kept the disease out of Goma, but nobody can afford to take any chances.
His case came to the attention of a surveillance team combing health facilities and neighbourhoods to identify patients with symptoms that might indicate Ebola infection.
Such cases are quickly sent to the alert centre which deploys investigators to assess the patient and decide whether to authorise a transfer to the nearest Ebola Treatment Centre for blood tests. If the test returns positive, the patient is isolated for treatment and if negative the patient is returned to the initial health facility or to their family to continue previous treatment.
Coupled with distrust of health workers is a belief among many people in Goma that Ebola does not exist.
“They do not have family members in the regions affected by the disease. They are people who have not travelled to see the devastation,” says Bahati Sabimana Faustin, a traditional healer who works in the Bujavu area of Goma.
Support from traditional healers like Faustin who have had training in how to recognise Ebola symptoms play an important role in containing the disease and in encouraging the community to take precautions. (more…)
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