Malaria outbreak trouble residents of Old Fangak

Malaria outbreak trouble residents of Old Fangak
Malaria is spread mostly by female Anopheles mosquito.

MSF in Old Fangak reported an increase in cases of particularly among children and pregnant women.

Since the beginning of August 2023, approximately 75 per cent of 200 consultations per day have resulted in positive malaria cases. Every day, MSF teams admit 10 to 15 patients with severe malaria.

Malaria, a serious and sometimes fatal disease is one of South Sudan’s top three causes of child mortality In Jonglei state, northeastern South Sudan.

MSF’s Clinical Officer, Thomas Kun, who has been with the organization since 2015, explained that the recurring floods in Jonglei State, have exacerbated malnutrition by destroying crops, and cattle along with forcing communities to flee their homes.

“Families that used to cultivate crops are now completely reliant on fishing and food distributions from international aid,” Kun said.

 However, because of the delayed rains, fishing has become more difficult, and international aid distributions are not always consistent, resulting in even less food.

“Children, in particular, suffer as a result of this situation, as they do not have access to food containing the appropriate nutrients for their age,” he said

Aside from an absence of food, remote communities have been cut off from health care and mosquito net distributions, putting their lives at risk.

People are not protected from malaria without nets, and when they become ill, it takes several days by canoe to reach a medical facility for effective treatment.

Easy cases are at risk of becoming severe by that time, and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable.

“The infection can be passed directly from the mother to the foetus, but most significantly, a high fever can terminate the pregnancy or induce premature labor,” explains Harriet Wikoru, MSF’s Midwife Activity Manager in Old Fangak Hospital.

“We provide mosquito nets during antenatal care consultations, but for mothers who live in remote areas, their pregnancy is not monitored and they are not protected,”

“As soon as we (MSF)obtain a positive test for malaria, we treat it right away,” Wikoru adds. “We cannot wait because we are aware of the dangers of malaria to mothers and their babies.”

The region of Old Fangak is not the sole area in South Sudan that has been severely impacted by the recurring floods. Many communities in Unity and Upper Nile states, where MSF also has medical operations, have been cut off by floodwaters and transformed into small islands with stagnant water surrounding them.