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IOM Transports South Sudan Cholera Patients from Remote Areas to Treatment Centres by River

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, July 30, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The South Sudan Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of cholera on 15 May 2014 and to date over 5,176 cases of the disease have been reported throughout the country, including Upper Nile State, where an outbreak in Wau Shilluk has claimed the lives of at least 17 people.

With the high levels of mobility between the small towns and villages along the Nile River, there is a high probability that the cholera infection will quickly travel north in the coming months, according to IOM health workers on the ground.

More than 987 cases of cholera have been reported in the stretch of the river Nile between Malakal and Kodok. This area has one of the highest concentrations of cholera cases in the country.

With a Case Fatality Rate of 2.2 per cent, it is forecast that a large portion of Upper Nile State's population, including over 177,000 IDPs, may be vulnerable to cholera in the coming months.

Though the majority of cholera patients can be treated with oral rehydration solution, those patients with severe symptoms need to access Cholera Treatment Centers (CTCs).

Through a grant from USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)-supported Rapid Response Fund, IOM is assisting in the South Sudan cholera response by transporting patients in need of further treatment from their villages to the CTCs in Malakal and Wau Shilluk using river boats.

The assistance will be available over the next two months and IOM will work with partners to identify patients in need and move them to the closest CTC for treatment.

Patients moved by river and road patients will be helped by medical professionals when necessary. IOM is also establishing oral rehydration posts and IOM health workers will lead community campaigns to raise awareness of cholera transmission and treatment.

Haley West of IOM's Migration Health Unit says: “We heard of patients struggling while attempting to reach the CTCs. The provision of transportation will expedite their access to treatment, contributing to a reduction in avoidable mortality.”

By providing funding for emergency programming in South Sudan, the IOM-managed USAID/ OFDA Rapid Response Fund, established in 2010, has enabled humanitarian actors to respond to crises quickly and effectively. The fund has been adapted to support the humanitarian response to the ongoing 2014 crisis and resulting displacement.

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