News / Africa

Riverboats Offer Lifeline to Cholera Victims in South Sudan

FILE - A South Sudanese child suffering from cholera sits on a bed in Juba Teaching Hospital.
FILE - A South Sudanese child suffering from cholera sits on a bed in Juba Teaching Hospital.
Lisa Schlein

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) this week begins a river transport service for critically ill cholera patients, taking them to treatment centers in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. The boats will pick up patients along a 60-kilometer stretch of the river Nile between the state capital, Malakal, and Kodok.

More than 5,000 cases of cholera have been reported in South Sudan, and nearly 100 deaths. An outbreak in Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile State has claimed about 20 of these lives. 

The International Organization for Migration says nearly 1,000 cases of cholera have been reported in small towns and villages along the river between Malakal and Kodok, giving this area one of the highest concentrations of cholera cases in the country. 

Cholera is a fast-moving epidemic and IOM health workers fear people in Upper Nile State, including more than 177,000 internally displaced people, may be at risk of getting the disease in the coming months.

In a telephone interview from the South Sudanese capital, Juba, Haley West of IOM’s Migration Health Unit told VOA most cholera patients can be successfully treated with oral rehydration therapy. But some patients need more radical care, and getting them quickly to a treatment center is a matter of life or death.

She said road travel during the rainy season is impossible, making river transport the only viable option. 

“It is not an ideal situation… However, given the immediate need, we believe that this is a good short-term solution. So, the project will run four to six weeks and it is really aimed at insuring that we are providing life-saving care for those critical patients that need to reach the cholera treatment center as quickly as possible to ensure that we avoid any additional mortality here in South Sudan,” said West. 

More than 1.5 million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted between the South Sudanese government and rebels in December. More than one million are internally displaced. The rest have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

The cholera epidemic is continuing to spread throughout South Sudan. Bringing it under control is difficult because of the congested and unhygienic conditions of the camps for displaced people. Poor sanitation and lack of safe drinking water are putting many IDP’s and local communities at risk. 

Cholera causes severe dehydration and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

West said health workers have to be vigilant because new cases of cholera keep popping up.  

“The fear is that it will continue to spread northward. There is a lot of population movement along the Nile. So, we just want to make sure that we have the resources necessary to be able to respond in case there is another outbreak. Again, normally, with cholera you see a couple of cases and then it can increase exponentially overnight and then within a week. So, you see a huge spike in cases before you are able to get it under control,” said West.

Health workers will go along the river every day canvassing for cholera patients who need emergency care in a treatment center. At the same time, they are running information campaigns in the remote villages and towns to raise awareness of cholera transmission and treatment. The message they are trying to convey is that cholera can be prevented through good hygiene practices.

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

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