UN, South Sudan enhance Ebola preparedness following outbreak in DRC
The UN and South Sudan said on Friday that they have intensified preparedness and response activities against Ebola in the wake of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
They said the ministry of health with support from World Health Organisation (WHO), Centre for Disease Control and other partners have engaged in a series of strategic leadership and multi-sectoral response activities in an effort to strengthen preparedness and response activities.
“To manage the risk posed by South Sudan’s complex humanitarian context, the history of previous EVD outbreaks, increasing global travel and proximity to DRC, implementation of effective public health measures is critical,” Riek Kok, the minister of health said in a joint statement issued in Juba.
According to WHO, South Sudan is one of the four high-risk countries (Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda) prioritized by WHO to enhance preparedness and operational readiness based on the proximity to the outbreak area as well as the capacity to manage EVD outbreaks.
Evans Liyosi, WHO South Sudan Representative, said although the country has not confirmed any EVD case, the disease remains a national and regional threat.
“The statistics from the current Ebola outbreak in DRC, show that 6 out of 10 cases have died.
“Hence, given the virulence of the virus, the current transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in DRC and South Sudan, it is vital to strengthen national capacities for effective preparedness and response especially at designated points of entry,” Liyosi said.
He said a high-level mission comprising of ministry of health, WHO, and key stakeholders visited the high-risk states of Yei River, Torit, Maridi, Gbudue, and Tambura from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6 as part of the advocacy needed to engage policymakers and mobilize ample resources to support EVD preparedness and response.
The WHO said health stakeholders have activated multi-sectoral Ebola task force at all levels, advocacy with key leaders at the national level, donors, humanitarian partners, state and county level leadership and other stakeholders.
It said critical gaps such as the need to establish Ebola treatment centers with optimal infection prevention and control, dedicated ambulance services, and adequate personal protection equipment have been identified during the high level mission.
The team also identified the need for specialized training in EVD case management, safe and dignified burials, and contact tracing.