Ebola preparedness in South Sudan: World Vision calls for heightened vigilance this Christmas season

The festive Christmas season all the way to the New Year could pose potential risks to the ongoing Ebola virus disease preparedness response in South Sudan and other affected countries. The expected increase in the population’s movements across borders in the country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries sharing their borders can be a critical risk factor among others.

Many health workers and field based humanitarian aid workers will also leave duty stations to be with family and friends. “All the health teams involved must ensure that all components of the Ebola response in South Sudan will continue in full scale. This is the time for heightened vigilance”, says Dr. Mesfin Loha, World Vision’s Country Programme Director in South Sudan

Eighteen screening points are currently operational. World Vision works with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to conduct the screening with support from UN agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Save the Children and Collegio Universitario Aspiranti Medici Missionari (CAUMM).

As of this report, an estimated 699,548 people entering South Sudan have been screened. “Coordination and multi-stakeholder partnerships are key to the success of this critical work. What we have seen so far is very encouraging”, adds Loha.

Last August 2018, the Ministry of Health of the DRC declared a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease in North Kivu Province. The province of North Kivu is among its most populated provinces with eight million people and shares borders with four other provinces namely Ituri, South Kivu, Maniema and Tshopo, as well as with Uganda and Rwanda.

The sub region has been experiencing intense insecurity and worsening humanitarian crisis, with over one million internally displaced people and a continuous outflow of refugees to neighboring countries, including South Sudan, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania. The ongoing Ebola outbreak poses a significant risk of spread to these countries close to the DRC.

The government of South Sudan and partners have swiftly established a strong and coordinated preparedness plan with a National Ebola Task Force led by the MOH and WHO, supported by key international and local partners. State level Ebola task forces and rapid response teams are also closely investigating suspected cases.

The public health preparedness and readiness includes four key components: coordination, resource mobilization, surveillance & laboratory and port health screening. WHO has prioritized nine countries neighboring DRC based on the proximity to the current outbreak epicenter, and the existing capacities of the health system to cope with EVD.

As of 10th December 2018, a total of 500 reported, including 452 confirmed and 48 probable cases. A total of 289 deaths have occurred with a case fatality rate of 58.7 percent.

More of our response work: Preventing the Ebola in South Sudan

For media interviews, please contact: Cecil Laguardia, Communications Manager through Skype: cecil_laguardia, email: cecil_laguardia@wvi.org or call: +639399262669, +211922287768.