Cholera cases in South Sudan spike, outbreak spreads
NEARLY 3 000 people in wartorn South Sudan have contracted cholera since July, the World Health Organisation reported this week, warning the outbreak had now spread to a region where conflict is hampering efforts to tackle the deadly disease.
“Unity State is where we’re focusing our efforts now. There’s an active conflict, so it’s not easy to control but we’re doing our best,” said Usman Abdulmumini, WHO South Sudan country representative.
An intestinal infection often linked to contaminated drinking water, cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting, leaving small children especially vulnerable to death from dehydration.
The outbreak has caused 44 deaths and spread to nine of South Sudan’s 28 states, WHO said.
But Abdulmumini said the disease was no longer spreading in the capital Juba, which has accounted for about two-thirds of cases.
“The outbreak continues but the good news is we have controlled it in most of the states.
“We’re not afraid that it’s getting out of hand.”
Unity State has experienced some of the worst violence since fighting erupted at the end of 2013 between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing his former deputy Riek Machar. They signed a peace deal last year but violence continues.
The conflict has killed thousands, uprooted 2.5 million people and caused a major hunger crisis. More than 6.1 million are in need of aid, the International Organisation for Migration said.
Unicef has warned the cholera outbreak could lead to a devastating loss of life if it spreads to conflict-hit states where health facilities have been destroyed. – Thomson Reuters Foundation