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Cholera cases rapidly multiplying in South Sudan

2014-05-20

JUBA, South Sudan, 19 May 2014 – The caseload of cholera is rapidly increasing in South Sudan, and the deadly, highly contagious disease appears to be spreading, UNICEF said today.

Since the outbreak of cholera in the capital, Juba, late last week, the reported cholera caseload has doubled every day; now with new reported cases in two additional states, Jonglei and Upper Nile.  

After the first case was confirmed in Juba four days ago, more than 130 additional cases are now being treated. There are three confirmed deaths. Dozens of children are among the affected.

“The severity of the cholera outbreak is just one manifestation of a country failing its children,” said Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “Cholera puts ever more strain on the most vulnerable, whose health is already compromised by a nutritional crisis.”

Since January, UNICEF has warned of the threat of cholera, due to the desperate overcrowding of camps following continued violence, and now the rainy season.  Last month the UN Children’s Fund said that unless nutrition treatment is scaled up immediately, up to 50,000 children under the age of five are likely to die.

In response to the cholera outbreak, UNICEF has helped establish a Cholera Treatment Centre (CTC) at the Juba Teaching Hospital, together with the provision of life-saving supplies – including medicines, protective gear, and equipment, and is expanding preventive measures to halt further spread across the country. 

However UNICEF in South Sudan urgently needs US$10m so as to continue current lifesaving operations, and increase its cholera prevention work.

Other immediate actions by UNICEF include:

  • Provision of clean water and essential sanitation, in the cholera treatment centre and across the country
  • Provision of medical and hygiene equipment, oral rehydration solutions and chlorine to Government authorities and NGOs in Juba
  • Provision of temporary wards - for both triage and patient care at the cholera treatment centre
  • Distribution of thousands of litres of clean drinking water at the CTC, as well as fuel to ensure consistent electricity supply for patient treatment
  • Training of hundreds of health workers, teachers, community leaders and volunteers in Juba on the prevention of cholera symptoms and prevention 
  • Pre-positioning of diarrheal disease kits in Protection of Civilians sites and at sub-national level
  • Mass dissemination of public health messages in five languages through radio, banners, posters and community mobilization.  

The cholera response in South Sudan is led by the Ministry of Health, with support from the WHO, UNICEF partners. 

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UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.