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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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