Opinion

Will Juba be declared Cholera free?

God, if the people of this country have greatly sinned against you, forgive them. Have mercy on them.

A total of eight hundred and thirty-four (834) people are reported to have died of cholera so far in the country according to records. The number could even be more as these were only cases reported to the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization and some United Nations Agencies operating in the country.

The cause has always been attributed to contaminated water of the River Nile. Some causes are attributed to congestion due to the conflict in the country.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are forced to drink dirty water for fear of their lives. This dirty water may lead to acquisition of cholera.

On 15 May 2014, the Ministry of Health declared a cholera outbreak in Juba, Central Equatoria State by then, after 18 suspected cholera cases and one death had been reported. By 11 Aug 2014, the number of cases had increased to 5,697, including 123 deaths.

In October of the same year, cholera resurfaced in Lopa-Lafon County of the former Eastern Equatoria where new cases and deaths were reported. The cumulative number rose to 6,260 cases with 157 deaths.  As of 14 Dec, 2014, the cumulative total stood at 6,421 cases including 167 deaths (CFR 2.60%) from five states and 16 counties.

On 23 June 2015, the Ministry of Health declared another outbreak of cholera in Juba County. By 27 June of the same year, the number of cases had increased to 347 including 26 deaths (WHO/Govt, 27 Jun 2015).

The initial cases in Juba were traced back to 18 May 2015 in UN House PoC where the first cholera case was confirmed on 1 June 2015 (UNICEF, 4 Jun 2015.)

In Bor, the initial cases were reported from Malou in Makuach Payam. Makuach Payam was the most affected in Bor and had registered an attack rate (cases per 10,000) of 28. (WHO/Govt, 21 July 2015.)

As of 9 Sep, a total of 1,735 cholera cases including 46 deaths (CFR 2.65%) had been reported in Juba and Bor Counties. Of the 46 deaths (27 died at facilities and 19 passed on in the communities) representing 11 (24 percent) occurred in children under five years. In Juba County alone, a total of 1,597 including 45 deaths (CFR 2.82%) had been reported from seven Payams. In Bor, 138 cases including one death (CFR 0.72 %) had been reported from Malou in Makuach Payam and other areas within the County. (WHO/Govt, 9 Sep 2015.)

On 3 Nov 2015, the Ministry of Health declared the end of cholera outbreak in the country after a period of 10 days with no reported laboratory confirmed cholera cases countrywide. (UNMISS, 3 Nov 2015.)

In June 2016, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Operations in the country said 248 death cases of cholera had been reported since its official outbreak in June 2016 out of the 8,160 cases reported in more than 19 states.

According to UNOCHA, most of the casualties were confined to areas adjacent to the Nile River at the beginning of its deployment in June 2016, but in the last four weeks new cases had begun to appear in remote areas of the Nile, demonstrating the increasing rate and rapid spread of cholera in the country.
The outbreak of cholera in 2016 was the largest and the deadliest in terms of length of time since the country’s independence according to UNOCHA by then.

On 24 February 2017, WHO health worker killed in Yambio, former Western Equatoria state. A cholera outbreak resulted in 206 cases and 19 deaths (CFR 10 percent) in Juba.

As the main cause of cholera is said to be contaminated water due to congestion, the only way to reduce or even eradicate it completely is total peace in the whole country. Without total peace in the country, IDPs will continue to stay in one place with little water to drink. Such a situation will make our country a dwelling place for cholera for ages. May peace come so that cholera becomes a history in Juba!

 

By Sworo Charles

 

 

 

 

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