Malaria, maternal health tops MSF’s disease treatment list
By Jale Richard
The Operations Manager of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) who visited some of the South Sudan projects has revealed that malaria and maternal health cases have topped the medical charity’s treatment list in these locations.
Akke Boere, Operations Manager for MSF visited several MSF projects, including in Bentiu POC, Bentiu town, Lankien and Mundri, where they run mobile clinics for the needy.
In an exclusive interview with the Juba Monitor on Friday 13th of July, Ms. Boere said since she visited the country last year, medical situation has not changed for many people in the country.
She said malaria is for now the most common disease MSF treats at most of its medical clinics across the country, but hinted that maternal health problems are also common among women. “This week, in Bentiu POC, 77% of our medical consultations were patients who were tested positive for malaria”, details Ms. Boere.
“We see a lot of malaria and especially with the rainy season it will only increase but we also see diarrheal diseases, and respiratory tracts infections,” she said adding that all the diseases can come from lack of clean water and the harsh living conditions that people face in their localities.
Ms. Boere said as part of the charity’s work they provide mosquito nets to people in order to prevent them from being infected with the malaria parasite as well as treating them.
She said they also focus on maternal health because it is a massive issue in the country.
Last year, MSF treated 224,655 cases of malaria in its clinics and from January to March this year throughout its 16 project locations, MSF treated 34,541 patients for malaria.
Ms. Boere said MSF also treats women with maternal health problems because women and children are more vulnerable in the difficult living conditions.
“We take care of women to have safe delivery, antenatal care, and postnatal care for babies when they are born to make sure they get proper care to get through the first month. Our priority is to provide treatment to the most vulnerable groups,” Boere said.
The visiting MSF Operations Manager noted that the population is still suffering from the ongoing violence and displacements, which in many occasions prevents them from being able to access clean water, enough food and medical care.
“We try to always respond to new emergencies if there is one,” she said.
Ms Boere however noted that it is a challenge to move around the country, due to poor roads and the insecurity, urging that security on the ground comes first so staff can reach needy communities.
MSF’s Head of Mission in South Sudan, Claudio Miglietta, admitted that they face access problems in many of their areas which affect delivery of medical services to patients.
“The ongoing violence in the country is having big consequences on the population to access healthcare. This makes it particularly difficult for the most vulnerable ones, such as women and children, at greater risks of diseases such as respiratory infections and water-borne diseases. It is even more problematic for children in need of vaccination to be protected against preventable diseases”, said Miglietta.
“Also, every time a medical facility is attacked, medical care and life-saving treatment for the people infected with diseases such as HIV and TB disappear, which can lead to fatal consequences. This is why it is essential for this vulnerable group of people to have access to their daily medicines”, he explained.
Ms. Boere who visits MSF’s projects in the country every year said by the time she returns next year, she hopes the population can have better access to health care, water and other basic services.
For the past 35 years, MSF has been bringing much-needed medical care in many parts of the country where access to healthcare and other humanitarian services remain limited.
In some areas such as Bentiu and Lankien, the organisation operates large hospitals providing primary and secondary medical care including surgeries and treatment of long-term or complicated illnesses such as HIV, TB, diabetes, or Kala Azar. In 2017, in Lankien and Bentiu POC, MSF treated over 1,600 patients infected with Kala Azar. In other locations, such as in Leer and Mayendit counties, MSF runs smaller projects with a decentralized model of care, which gives the flexibility to reach the most vulnerable populations and treat the most common morbidities such as malaria, skin diseases and acute watery diarrhea.
From January to March this year, throughout its 16 project locations, the organisation registered 245,268 outpatient consultations, of which 72,867 for children under five. In addition, 6,160 surgical operations and 3,303 deliveries were ensured at field level, together with over 34,541 patients treated for malaria.
In 2017, nearly 1 million outpatient consultations (959,988), 42,596 patients hospitalized, 17,135 patients under 5 years old hospitalized, Nearly 6,000 surgeries (5,975), 206 C-sections performed, 10,068 babies delivered, 4,162 violence-related injuries treated, 14,532 patients treated for malnutrition, and 2,406 patients treated for Kala-Azar.