Health Politics Social South Sudan

Cholera Kills 19 and infects more than 180 as Government blamed for slow response

A South Sudanese family washing their hands in accordance with Cholera prevention campaign.
A South Sudanese family washing their hands in accordance with Cholera prevention campaign.

June 24, 2015 (Nyamilepedia) — Acute Watery Diarrhea infections has killed more than 19 and left more than 180 hospitalised in South Sudan’s capital Juba.

The government has been accused of slow response and for failing to raise awareness and declare a national emergency for Cholera which is believed to have started since 27th of May.

Cholera is an acute infection that is caused by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminate with the deadly Bacterium Vibrio Cholerae, it causes severe Diarrhea, stomach cramps, abdominal pain and vomiting leading to dehydration of the body, it’s treatable but can lead to death within a few hours of symptoms if not treated accordingly.

The Ministry of Health has accused the presidency of not taking the Cholera breakout serious saying President Salva Kiir had delayed to approve declaration of an emergency after being informed by the presidency that Pres. Kiir was “too busy” with other duties.

Dr. Riak Gai Kok who is the National Minister of Health said in a press conference yesterday that 171 people have been infected since the beginning of this month alone, the infection has left 18 people dead including young children.

“It has now been confirmed through our public health laboratory and up to date, we have 171 cases of cholera and 18 deaths due to cholera in different parts of Juba,” Dr Gai said.

“Nine of these death cases occurred in Juba Teaching Hospital and nine others occurred at home.” Riak added.

Meanwhile the Central Equatoria State Minister for Health Felix Lado says 16 people have been infected with Cholera just today alone blaming the slow response from high authority at the presidency.

Children at risk

The UNHCR has meanwhile warned that children in South Sudan are now facing the biggest threat from the Cholera outbreak unless the government and international aid agencies act fast.

“Up to 5,000 children under five are at risk of dying from cholera unless urgent action is taken to contain this threat,” UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, Jonathan Veitch warned today.

Blame game

Citizens are asking why the Cholera infection outbreak was not declare early leaving it until too late, but the Minister of Health has refused to make further comments instead pushing the blame to the president’s office for delaying to meet with him in time.

“So for the last few days we have been making efforts to meet His Excellency the President and even this morning despite his busy schedule” Said the minister.

“we were  … finally… able to meet him, so we informed the president that there is an outbreak of cholera that started since the 1st of June”

A senior official within the Presidency who refused to be named as he is not permitted to discuss such issues said the reason why President Kiir did not meet the Health Minister Dr. Riak Gai to declare an emergency is because the Presidency had plans to keep a low profile of the Cholera outbreak until after Independence celebration in order not to jeopardise the celebrations, adding that it was not because the president did not know.

When ask by Journalists as to why there was delay in declaring the Cholera outbreak and informing the public in time, the Minister said he did not have time for blame game.

“We are not here today to investigate the past we are here today to disseminate what is supposed to be done. You are asking why information was not disseminated or informed the public, that thing I have no time for it,” Dr. Riak Gai replied to journalists refusing to take blame for the delay in warning public.

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