News / Africa

In South Sudan, Deadly Kala Azar on the Rise

Matthew Buru, 4, undergoes intravenous treatment for cholera at an MSF treatment center near Juba earlier this year. MSF says cholera cases are down but cases of kala azar are up sharply.
Matthew Buru, 4, undergoes intravenous treatment for cholera at an MSF treatment center near Juba earlier this year. MSF says cholera cases are down but cases of kala azar are up sharply.
Mugume Davis Rwakaringi

Officials with international medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Thursday that a killer disease is on the rise in South Sudan, just as the deadly cholera outbreak in the country appears to be under control.

As one MSF official announced in a statement that the organization has started scaling down its cholera operations in South Sudan after seeing a significant decline in the number of new cases in recent weeks, another said cases of kala azar -- the second most deadly parasitic disease in the world after malaria -- were up sharply.

The number of people seeking treatment for kala azar has almost doubled this year compared to last, MSF Deputy Medical Coordinator, Dr. Ahmed Abdi said.

"Since April, up to now, we have treated 2,000 kala azar patients, compared to last year, when we treated 1300,” Abdi said.

Most of the patients seeking treatment for the illness are in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states, the three states that have been hardest hit by fighting that broke out in South Sudan in December.

Displaced more susceptible

Abdi blamed the increase in cases of the disease, which is transmitted through the bite of female sand flies, on the fact that hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have been displaced by the conflict and are living in the open.

 “If you don’t have bed nets or if you are not sleeping inside a house or a tukul, then you are more prone to the disease. Sometimes in the hospital we do have a family... in which all four children have kala azar," he said.

Food insecurity is also making South Sudanese more vulnerable to kala azar, Abdi said. U.N. agencies in South Sudan have said around four million people in the country are food insecure.

Malnutrition weakens the immune system which leaves people more vulnerable to diseases such as kala azar, Abdi said.

MSF has treated more than 16,000 children for malnutrition since January in the three states where kala azar is a problem. In Upper Nile state alone, the medical charity has treated nearly 900 people for kala azar since April this year, Abdi said.

100-percent fatal in two years

Also known as visceral leishmaniasis, kala azar "can be 100-percent fatal within two years" if left untreated, according to the World Health Organization.

In the early stages of infection, sufferers have skin sores or ulcers at the spot where they were bitten by the sand fly. If the disease is not caught early, it attacks the immune system.

Abdi said that in addition to living out in the open, which heightens the risk of being bitten by a female sand fly and getting kala azar, most people who are infected have to travel long distances to seek treatment for the disease because many health facilities in South Sudan have been destroyed during the conflict.

The rainy season only makes matters worse and Abdi said he fears some people could die on their way to get treatment.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gatluakl from: south sudan
September 05, 2014 8:37 AM
many disease will happen in South Sudan as peace process in Adis Ababa become world trades mostly east Africa communities . Kala zar and cholera they all erupted in country and kills many people .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid