Over 12 million people at risk of tropical diseases

Over 12 million people at risk of tropical diseases

The World Health Organisation, in its latest report, said more than 12 million people in South Sudan are likely to be at risk of tropical diseases.

In a statement seen by The City Review on Thursday, the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Health, Ader Macar, said 19 of the 20 neglected diseases are endemic, posing a huge risk to the country.

He noted that the government is closely working with the partners to ensure those affected get treatment for the diseases.

“We are working hand in hand with our partners to reach communities across the country and ensure that populations at risk receive treatment and protection from these diseases,” Macar said.  

He said the Ministry of Health is committed to preventing the spread of diseases in the country by making sure that people are treated.

“The journey to eliminating neglected tropical diseases is a long one and we are determined to finish the job by protecting everyone at risk so that they can live healthier lives.”

According to the statement, South Sudan has made significant efforts with support from the WHO and partners over the past few years and has managed to tackle the threat of neglected tropical diseases by providing drugs and bolstering preventive measures in a bid to accelerate progress towards ending the diseases.

Ernesto Tombe Sawka, a resident of Gondokoro in Juba County who benefited from a recent mass drug administration campaign in his community, said the health workers were able to sensitise them on the significance of taking the medication appropriately.

“The health workers educated us on the importance of taking the medicine, so I didn’t hesitate to take the drug on the first day of the mass drug administration. The medicine has helped us a lot. I no longer experience frequent sickness,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Fabian Ndenzako, acting WHO representative in South Sudan, pledged the health agency’s commitment to eradicating the spread of tropical diseases in the country.

“We are committed to supporting the Ministry of Health in the efforts to address the threat of neglected tropical diseases in the country,” Dr. Ndenzako stressed.

He added, “Together, we are working to ensure that the national plan is fully implemented to help end the threat of this disease and the suffering it causes.”

According to the World Health Organization’s report, since 2021, nearly 17 million people in South Sudan have received treatment for river blindness, elephantiasis, bilharzia, trachoma and soil-transmitted worms.

World Health Organization has supported South Sudan’s Ministry of Health to develop and implement a Neglected Tropical Disease Master Plan for 2023 up to 2027.

The Master Plan is aligning with the 2030 Neglected Tropical Diseases Global Roadmap for elimination. The roadmap aims, among other goals, to eliminate targeted diseases such as bilharzia, river blindness, elephantiasis, intestinal worms and trachoma by 2030.

The neglected tropical diseases are a set of 20 diseases that occur predominantly in tropical and subtropical areas. These include lymphatic filariasis, more commonly known as elephantiasis, onchocerciasis or river blindness, schistosomiasis, or bilharzia, as well as human African trypanosomiasis, often called sleeping sickness, chronic ulcers and other skin infections.