South Sudan Red Cross mobilizes volunteers to combat cholera in Juba

تم النشر: 10 يوليه 2015 16:17 CET

By Marial Mayom Riak, South Sudan Red Cross

South Sudan is currently battling a cholera outbreak that has led to 34 deaths. South Sudan Red Cross volunteers are working hard to take cholera prevention messages house-to-house and refer patients suffering diarrhoea symptoms to treatment centres.

The outbreak was declared on 23 June. To date, 724 cholera cases have been reported from 75 villages in Juba County. Red Cross Red Crescent partners immediately activated the Movement Cholera Task Force to respond to the outbreak and to plan for other states that are prone to cholera outbreak, such as Torit and Greater Upper Nile.

To prevent further spread of the disease, the South Sudan Red Cross has started a social mobilization campaign in order to educate people on cholera prevention by conducting house-to-house visits and promoting hygiene awareness in affected communities.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. Ensuring clean water and safe food can save many lives.

“Refresher training was conducted for 50 volunteers as community mobilizers since they had already participated in the last year cholera campaign,” says Yohanis Johnson, acting Health Manager for the South Sudan Red Cross. “The majority of the population in Juba is using water from the Nile on a daily basis and so we distributing water purification tablets to enable them to drink safe water, and explaining to them how to prevent cholera by boiling water, using purification tablets and washing their hands using soap.”

“From today onward I will not drink water directly from the Nile unless I boil it or use some water purifier,” says community member Abuk Deng, after participating in a cholera prevention session conducted by Red Cross volunteers.

Inadequate sanitation conditions and a lack of safe drinking water in the war-torn country put thousands already affected by violence at further risk. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has released 225,368 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to assist the South Sudan Red Cross in supporting 60,000 people at risk from cholera in Juba. This funding will enable the National Society to ensure health and hygiene promotion.

Volunteers have been providing information on cholera prevention following an outbreak in South Sudan.

South Sudan Red Cross will also undertake the repair and rehabilitation of existing water facilities in Juba and establish hand-washing points in schools and markets. The Red Cross will also reinstall a surface water treatment system in Torit to provide safe drinking water.

“Our volunteers’ role is to motivate the adoption of appropriate behaviors to prevent cholera, but also to identify severe diarrhea cases in community and refer them to the cholera treatment centers in Juba,” Yohanis added.

Noel Joseph Sasa, 24, one of the volunteers involved in the cholera campaign said: “Since I became a volunteer in 2011, I am delighted to serve my community by educating them on health issues which are a concern to everybody.”

Last year, South Sudan witnessed a similar cholera outbreak that affected more than 6,400 people and claimed 160 lives, mostly in Juba and Torit. Until all households at risk have access to safe drinking water, are making proper use of sanitation facilities and have adopted good hygiene practices, the threat of cholera and other waterborne diseases will linger, especially among vulnerable communities.