By Peter Lokale Nakimangole
TORIT, 17 July 2014 [Gurtong] – Cholera was first confirmed in Juba in mid-May this year and has since spread to three more states, including EES. The bacterial disease has claimed about 25 lives in EES; more than 1200 cases have been reported in the state, with Torit being the worst hit area. Magwi, Lopa/Lofa and Kapoeta North counties have confirmed the outbreak of the disease and there are also suspected cases in Ikwoto County.
|EES and National Ministers of Health Dr Margaret Itto and Dr Riek Kok in a cholera response meeting during the latter’s recent visit to Torit. [HLSS photo|
With support from UNICEF, HLSS is setting up 20 ORPs in Torit (six), Magwi and Lopa/Lafon. “In three days, we have registered and referred 21 cases of cholera in Hai Lotuho, (one person died at the CTC in Torit Hospital), 11 in Inyif and one in Lobalua,” said Dr. Chris Ogwang, HLSS’ Emergency Coordinator.
Late reporting of cases, lack of latrines, inadequate qualified human resource and a poor road network, according to Dr. Ogwang, pose huge challenges in the quest to quickly eradicate cholera in EES. HLSS has recruited additional medical and support personnel in order to adequately respond to the devastating outbreak in EES.
“HLSS in two weeks has recruited at least 25 medical personnel; two doctors, five clinical officers, 17 comprehensive nurses, an enrolled midwife and two drivers,” said Emmanuel Douglas, the Director of HLSS. “With the right human resource, we have a chance to quickly scale down deaths and cases of cholera. Apart from the medics, we have also trained at least 24 Home Health Promoters (HHPs) who go from home to home to explain what cholera is and how to manage it.”
HLSS intends to urgently expand its cholera response to Owinykibul (Magwi), Lopa/Lafon and Kapoeta North. With support of the local chiefs, the organisation is mobilizing to train at least 116 HHPs to pass out the key messages on cholera and its management.
“We plan to reach 89,500 households where the HHPs would carry out door to door hygiene and sanitation promotion, distribute ORS sachets and water treatment supplies as well as train communities on how to make ORS locally and also encourage early referral of suspected cholera cases,” said Douglas.
The National Minister of Health, Dr Riek Kok, during his recent visit to Torit urged health partners to expand their cholera responses to Magwi, Kapoeta North and other remote areas of the state with cases of cholera. He also urged chiefs to help in community mobilization and encouraging pit latrine construction using local materials instead of waiting for cement slabs.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by eating of food or drinking water/fluids contaminated with the bacterium vibro cholera. Its main signs and symptoms are acute rice-soup- like watery stool and vomiting.