South Sudan: Nation Has Made Tremendous Progress in Eradicating Guinea Worm

Very positive news about eradicating guinea worm disease. If you want to find out more read this article:

Juba — South Sudan though being the worst hit country in Africa by guinea worm disease is tremendously moving well in its journey to eradicate the disease from the country.

Available data indicates that only one thousand and ten (1010) cases were reported this year in six states compared to twenty thousand (20,000) cases reported in 2006.

Hon. Dr. Yetta Lori Lugur, the deputy minister for Health while speaking at the opening of the two-day sixth annual guinea worm eradication review meeting in Juba Bridge Hotel today said South Sudan has come a long way to where it is today in the fight to eradicate the disease in the country. He explained that about 92 percent reduction over the last five years has been achieved and attributed this success to the technical and financial support from the Carter Centre, World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF which, he said, collectively have being supporting the government in this fight.

Dr. Lori said the review meeting has come at the right as the country is engaged in an effort to eradicate guinea worm disease transmission by 2013. He said the review meeting will serve to review all the guinea worm eradication activities, assess the progress that has been made and set new priorities in the last attempt to wipe the disease out of the country.

The deputy minister, however, decried the many challenges hampering the eradication efforts saying that they are real. “We all know that we are not preventing guinea worm by vaccination nor do we prevent it by drugs”, he said.

Dr. Lori said seasonal transfers of livestock from one grazing ground to another, population displacement due to cattle rustling, non availability of safe water sources, limited trained personnel, remoteness and difficult terrains that limit accessibility, predominant dependence on donor are the major challenges that hamper accelerated efforts to eradicate guinea worm disease.

He observed that one of the major concerns for the government is that only 22 percent of the guinea worm endemic villages in South Sudan have access to clean and safe drinking water. This, he said, implies that about 78 percent the guinea worm endemic villages need clean drinking water.

Dr. Lori underscored the many achievements despite the challenges. He said the 13th to 14th October guinea worm acceleration meeting for water, sanitation and hygiene in Kopoeta Eastern Equatorial was a success.

He stated that the meeting cemented the partnership of the government with its development partners and reaffirmed commitment of partners in the provision of clean and safe drinking water in the areas most affected villages. He praised the Carter Centre, UNICEF, WHO, CRS, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation as well as the Eastern Equatoria government for organizing such a credible meeting.

He urged frontline staff, the surveillance officers, village volunteers to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly in the programme and work harder in detecting every guinea worm case and containing every worm.

Dr. Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben, the director of guinea worm eradication program of the Carter Center in Atlanta Georgia said the results of this year’s guinea worm prevalence indicate that South Sudan is very close in the war of eradicating the guinea worm disease. He said South Sudan happens to be one of the last remaining highly endemic areas in the world and one of the four African countries with greatest cases reported besides Mali, Ethiopia and Chad that only constitutes twenty six percent of the guinea worm disease cases in Africa.

He said the Carter Centre has been working with the people of South Sudan before and after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in fighting the disease. He said that having the guinea worm eradication job done means understanding the objective of the eradication program which is to interrupt transmission of the diseases. He observed that guinea worm eradication intervention is not by use of vaccination, and not even any curative drugs. “We don’t have any medication that can cure a person from guinea worm disease”, he said.

He said what is most important for the people living in the highly endemic areas of guinea worm infection to know is that the disease is transmitted through drinking dirty water that may be containing the disease and learning preventive measures like stopping people already infected entering into water sources.

He said the Carter Centre will work together with the government and other partners like UNICEF which have programmes of providing clean and safe drinking water in the fight against guinea worm disease

Guinea worm disease is a parasitic worm infection that occurs mainly in Africa and its transition is through drinking standing water containing tiny water fleas infested with the larvae of the guinea worm. In the human body the larvae matures and grows up to about three feet. It is observed that the worm after a year emerges through a painful blister in the skin causing long term suffering and sometimes crippling its victim.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201112090044.html by Matata Safi

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