South Sudan and the UN health agency on Wednesday launched a sensitisation and awareness campaign against Ebola to enhance preparedness in the country following an outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The WHO said on Wednesday that a high-level mission comprised of the ministry of health and WHO visited Yambio, former Western Equatoria State on a sensitisation campaign.
“Although no cases of EVD (Ebola virus disease) have been reported in South Sudan, the outbreak in DRC is of concern as it places the country at greater risk,” said Argata Guyo, Emergency Coordinator for WHO South Sudan, said in a statement issued in Juba.
WHO said the mission led by Riek Kok, the minister of health, updated the governor of the state of Yambio, cabinets, members of the parliament, UN agencies and NGOs including members of the public on how the EVD is transmitted and the preventive measures that can be taken such as sensitising the community through mobile messaging and ongoing TV, radio and print mass traditional and non-traditional communication campaigns.
Both Guracha and Kok outlined a raft of measures taken with support from WHO to prevent the entry and spread of the EVD into South Sudan.
“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,” Kok said.
“Key to our response is training community health workers to recognize the symptoms of the virus and refer potential cases for immediate medical care,” he added.
According to the minister, South Sudan’s history of previous EVD outbreaks, global travel of people and the former Western Equatoria’s proximity to the DRC constitute risk factors for the country.
The EVD is a deadly disease currently affecting DRC.
As of May 16, a total of 45 new cases of EVD and 25 deaths have been reported from three health zones in Equateur Province, according to WHO.
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 UN health agency also said an Ebola contingency plan is being updated to strengthen readiness capacities while surveillance officers at points of entry have been alerted and supported to enhance early detection of cases.