News / Africa

South Sudan: Worst Kala Azar Outbreak in 8 Years

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

A medical aid group says as south Sudan nears a referendum on independence, it faces many serious health problems.

Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, says south Sudan is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of kala azar in eight years.  The parasitic disease is transmitted by the bite of sand flies and attacks internal organs, such as the liver and spleen.  The disease is often fatal if untreated.

Nurse Jane Boggini, who works in Malakal in Upper Nile state, says, “This year…we’re seeing an extremely high number of cases.  We have within our Doctors Without Borders treatment sites…treated over 2,300 patients.”

That compares to a few hundred cases at this time last year.   Boggini says there could be several reasons for the increase, including high rates of malnutrition.

“Our nutritional programs have seen a 50 percent increase in the number of children.  So we have children who are in a weaker state than before.  We also have people who are returning from the north.  They’re coming back … and these are people who have not been exposed to kala azar in the past.  So, possibly that’s another reason,” she says.

Treatment

Children and the elderly are most vulnerable to the disease.  Doctors Without Borders uses several different treatment methods.  One is a drug that must be administered daily for 30 days.

“In other words, patients have to stay close to the treatment center,” she says, adding, “It’s quite painful.  So they have to come and leave their villages.  They have to stay near the health center and that means disruptions for the family. They have to leave their children behind.”

When treatment is given in a hospital for more serious cases, two medications are administered, one by IV or intravenously.  However, she says, “The medication has to be refrigerated.  Now this means we can’t use it in these outlying areas because there is no electricity.”

There is also a two drug combination that the medical aid group uses for kala azar, which can shorten treatment to 17 days.

Besides the parasite disease, MSF says there are a high number of malaria and diarrheal cases in south Sudan.  And at certain times of the year there is a rise in respiratory infections.

Logistics and supplies

Boggini says it can be difficult to access those in need in rural areas, just as it is difficult for sick people to reach clinics.  “That’s probably the biggest problem we have,” she says.

All the medicals supplies must be flown in.  She says, “It’s a large logistical problem working here.”

Doctors Without Borders has been working in Sudan since 1979, with 27 projects in 13 states.

You May Like

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More