South Sudan launches Ebola sensitization and awareness campaign

By Deng Machol

Minister of Health, Dr Riek Gai Kok and WHO Representative a.i.for South Sudan, Mr Evans Liyosi addressing a joint press conference in Juba.
Minister of Health, Dr Riek Gai Kok and WHO Representative a.i.for South Sudan, Mr Evans Liyosi addressing a joint press conference in Juba.

Juba – Following the Ebola outbreak that has been declared in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudanese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched Ebola virus disease sensitization and awareness campaign in the country to enhance preparedness in the country.

This week, a high – level mission comprised of Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization visited Yambio, capital of former Western Equatoria State on a sensitization campaign, bordering  Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on west part of South Sudan, estimated 575 miles from Juba capital.

 The campaign comes in the wake of an Ebola outbreak declared in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has killed dozens of people.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, South Sudan’s health Minister, Riek Gai Kok briefed the state governor, cabinets, members of the parliament, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, community based organizations and the general public on the basics of the disease, how it is transmitted and the preventive measures that can be taken to sensitizing the community.

“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”, said the minister.

He further added that, “Key to our response is training community health workers to recognize the symptoms of the virus and refer potential cases for immediate medical care”.

Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by Ebola viruses. Signs and symptoms typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus with a fever, sore throat, muscular pain, and headaches. Vomiting, diarrhea and rash usually follow along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys.

“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 Guracha Guyo, the WHO emergency coordinator for South Sudan in the same event.

However, the health official have outlined a number of measures already in place to prevent and prepare the entry and spread of the Ebola disease into South Sudan, includes; a multi-sectoral Ebola Preparedness and Response Task Force to coordinate preparedness and risk monitoring activities activated; the Ebola contingency plan is being updated to strengthen readiness capacities; Surveillance officers at points of entry have been alerted and supported to enhance surveillance and early detection of cases; social mobilization and risk communication messages and materials have been shared out to enhance public awareness and sensitize the community to report all rumors and suspected cases; Emergency kits including Personal Protection Equipment’s (PPEs) have also been prepositioned to facilitate suspect case investigation and response

The Ebola virus disease can only be passed on by direct contact with bodily fluids of an affected person or animal (such as urine, sweat or blood); therefore raising community awareness about the disease can stop an Ebola outbreak – so that people understand how the virus is transmitted, recognize the symptoms of those who are infected and are empowered to take action to prevent the spread.


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