Carla Fibla Garcia-Sala is currently serving as our communications officer in South Sudan, reporting on the humanitarian crisis and our response.
Response Spreads to Southern Juba to Protect Families from Cholera
JUBA—June 17, 2014— John Jenis, a proud father of five, is now the parent of four—he had to bury his three- year-old son last week. His little boy first started showing symptoms of cholera one recent morning, and passed away later that evening at Juba Hospital. It was that fast. “I think he got sick from playing with the dirty water next to our house; the kids always do it, even if I try to stop them. If I am around, I can protect them but if I am at work then they may even drink this water,” he explained with his other young children surrounding him.
Since the cholera outbreak began just one month ago, 1,720 people have been infected and 37 have died. While the caseload overall is stabilizing, last week has shown an increasing number of children 2-4 years old getting sick—and that’s a nightmare come true for families in the area. Our Cholera Emergency Response Team has been working with local government officials and volunteers to stop the spread of cholera in Juba and ensure that families have access to treatment for those that fall ill.
If John’s son had made it to a healthcare center earlier in the day, he could have been treated. We have been tirelessly visiting community members in their homes, at markets, at restaurants and at schools over the last few weeks to raise awareness about cholera and explain what to do if a family member gets sick. In four affected neighborhoods, we organized community awareness campaigns and distributed hygiene kits to families to help them stay clean and healthy. Two children were newly diagnosed in the Tongping neighborhood but recovered because their families rushed them to the hospital as soon they showed symptoms. Awareness of how to detect this dangerous disease is vital for families in Juba and we have been at the forefront of this response.
Doctor Rama Kalata Iata from the Gurei Primary Health Care Centre has been treating cholera patients since the first days of the outbreak:
“Now people know they should go directly to the Center for Treatment of Cholera when they start to feel ill, and we will continue to provide information about hygiene and what to do if you get sick.”
We have reached over 5,000 people in our mass hygiene promotion campaign and have mobilized over 40 community leaders with the goal of improving our early warning systems, setting up local treatment points, and managing funeral rituals in the area to ensure proper burial.
The number of new cholera cases has remained relatively stable this past week—and while that’s a notable improvement, it in no way means our work is done. As we transition to cover eight new affected areas in southern Juba, the local Quarter Council in our recent target areas has taken the outbreak management into their own hands with support from our team. When new cholera cases are brought to the council, they distribute hygiene kits to the families, disinfect latrines and common spaces if necessary, and provide information on prevention. Parents like John face challenges every day and the risk of losing a child to a preventable and treatable illness is growing. Our Cholera Emergency Response Team is working to protect families from this deadly illness and we are expanding our response to cover more areas as we control this outbreak.
Download the pdf: ACF USA Statement 06 17 14