By Deng Machol
Juba – The United Nations and its humanitarian partners has stepped up preparations for the Ebola virus outbreak spreading into neighboring South Sudan from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
On Monday, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has prompted by the Ebola outbreaks in DRC and its allocated 2 million U.S. dollars to support critical Ebola preparedness activities to protect an estimated 440,000 people in high-risk areas of South Sudan,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN chief.
“Although there have been no cases confirmed in South Sudan, the World Health Organization (WHO) says the country is at ‘very high-risk’ due to its proximity to DRC,” he said. “The CERF funds will help to strengthen surveillance, build case management capabilities, enhance laboratory services and increase infection control and prevention.”
As of Saturday, the WHO said there were 774 confirmed cases, including 54 cases that had not been officially confirmed but were regarded as probable since hemorrhagic fever outbreak was confirmed last August. Of those, there were 427 deaths, including 54 probable victims.
Last month, South Sudan aided by the United Nations and its humanitarian partners began vaccinating health workers and other frontline defense individuals against the frequently deadly disease, WHO said.
Meanwhile, Alain Noudéhou, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan said ‘through the generous support of CERF’s donors, we have the funds to push ahead with preparedness activities for Ebola.
He said rigorous prioritisation has taken place to ensure the best use of these resources. Activities are targeted in the high-risk areas, including borders and points of entry with the DRC.
According to Humanitarian Coordinator, the money has gone to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“With this increased funding, we continue to be able to train more local frontline workers with the knowledge to identify suspected Ebola cases and report them,” said Mr. Noudéhou. “Clean water and sanitation are also a priority – setting up handwashing stations at schools and public places and hygiene promotion is essential to increase infection prevention and control.”
Although there have been no cases confirmed in South Sudan, WHO has declared the country is at ‘very high-risk’ due to its proximity to DRC.
The funds will help with time-critical actions to strengthen surveillance, build case management capabilities, enhance laboratory services and increase infection prevention and control. The CERF will also ensure adequate logistics support.