IOM Responds to Suspected Cholera Cases in Juba, South Sudan

Posted: 
07/19/16
Region-Country: 
Africa and Middle East / South Sudan
Themes: 
Humanitarian Emergencies, Migration Health

South Sudan - IOM medical staff are responding to an upsurge of suspected cholera cases in Juba and providing emergency medical care to civilians displaced by last week’s fighting in South Sudan’s capital.

On 17 July, the South Sudan Ministry of Health issued an alert after 30 suspected cholera cases and one death were reported in Juba. Thirteen of the cases tested positive after rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and are undergoing culture testing for confirmation. Additional cases were reported in Duk County and Terekeka.

IOM is working closely with the Health Cluster and the UN World Health Organization to respond to and mitigate the spread of cholera.

As part of this effort, IOM geospatial information specialists are mapping cholera hotspots to enable fast and targeted responses to suspected cases. IOM and Medair are also setting up oral rehydration stations in Juba.

Approximately 14,900 people remain displaced in Juba since fighting erupted on 7 July and continued until a ceasefire on 11 July.

An estimated 6,800 new arrivals are being sheltered at the UN House peacekeeping base on the outskirts of Juba, which already housed some 28,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) prior to the fighting. Another 4,000 people are seeking protection at a second UN peacekeeping base in Juba’s Tong Ping neighbourhood.

IOM camp management staff continue to observe new arrivals at the UN Tong Ping base, as concerns over insecurity persist.

One suspected cholera case was identified at IOM’s primary health care clinic at Tong Ping on 16 July. The case tested RDT positive and is undergoing culture confirmation; the patient has been transferred to the Juba Teaching Hospital, where Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is supporting a Cholera Treatment Centre.

As more people continue to arrive at the site, concerns are increasing over the impact of the rainy season and the spread of other waterborne diseases. Without proper drainage, the rainy season can lead to flooding and extremely muddy conditions for IDPs.

“Good hygiene is crucial to stemming the spread of cholera,” says Kelsi Kriitmaa, IOM South Sudan migration health programme manager. “IOM is intensifying training of health and hygiene promoters to spread basic messaging on best practices such as handwashing and drinking safe water.”

In addition to trucking clean drinking water to the Tong Ping site, IOM water and sanitation teams are building additional latrines and water points to mitigate the impact of crowding and difficult living conditions at the site.

Fighting in Juba has exacerbated acute humanitarian needs in South Sudan, where approximately 1.61 million people remain displaced as a result of the civil war, which erupted in December 2013.

For further information, please contact Ashley McLaughlin at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +254 736654086, Email: amclaughlin@iom.int.

IOM provides medical care to an IDP family at a temporary clinic in South Sudan. Photo: IOM 2016
IOM provides medical care to an IDP family at a temporary clinic in South Sudan. Photo: IOM 2016