Eastern Equatoria state has the highest number of Guinea Worm infection cases

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Eastern Equatoria state has registered the highest number of Guinea Worm disease cases. This was revealed in a meeting organized by the ministry of Health and UNICEF under the theme “Together for a Final Push to Eliminate Guinea Worm Disease in South Sudan’.

Eastern Equatoria state has registered the highest number of Guinea Worm disease cases. This was revealed in a meeting organized by the ministry of Health and UNICEF under the theme “Together for a Final Push to Eliminate Guinea Worm Disease in South Sudan’.

 The meeting was also attended by Vice president James Wani Igga and all health ministers from the ten states and other health partners. The VP said there is a lot more that needs to be done beyond merely constructing new water points.

“This meeting needs to determine the mechanisms that will enable all of us to mobilize what is required; ranging from finance, logistics and the technical knowhow to enable us go the extra mile to get the work done,” he said.

He added that the purpose of the meeting was to help learn critical lessons to help overcome the havocs that have prevented obtaining the desired objectives in the past. He said those objectives include realizing zeros cases in 2015.

When the Guinea worm eradication programme started in 2006, seven of South Sudan’s ten states reported 20,000 cases. Nine years on, two counties in three states of Eastern Equatoria and Lakes states registered 70 cases, representing 56 percent of global cases reported last year.

Riek Gai Kok, the national minister for Health said cases of Guinea worm have reduced by over 99 percent since 2006 when the programme was officially launched.

“Endemic villages reduced from 3,134 in 2006 to only 13 villages in South Sudan. All these are very encouraging milestones that make the Guinea Worm eradication programme one of the most successful programmes for this generation of South Sudanese,” Gai said.

He further said that Eastern Equatoria and Lakes State, where all 70 cases of Guinea worm were reported in 2014, will be the priority for his ministry this year.

 “Clean water remains a challenge because up to now, only forty per cent of the population is covered with clean water. So what we do is communities’ sensitization, a lot of awareness on hygiene, on health. At the same time providing filters to them; both the pipe and the cloth so that where the water is not very clean, they can also filter to avoid the worm being taken,” he said.

Dr. Margaret Itto Leonardo, the Health minister for Eastern Equatoria state told the officials that more boreholes will be dug in the state, and hygiene education campaigns will be increased about the waterborne disease this year, to reduce the disease outbreak.

Dr. Itto said there is a political will to fight Guinea worm disease, which former US President Jimmy Carter has taken up as his main goal for eradication all over the world.

She applauded the role played by Carter Center and UNICEF, which helped Eastern Equatoria state make tremendous strides in reducing the numbers of Guinea worm disease cases to two digits over the past nine years.  

 “Even one case to us is a big issue because it disables the person and reduces livelihood. We want to get to zero. Therefore, we are hopeful. We are all committed…,” she said.

 However, an official from the Carter Center insisted the battle against Guinea worm disease is successful,, saying that in 1991, there were 23,735 villages with endemic transmission of Guinea worm disease in 21 African and Asian countries.  By the end of 2014, there were only 30 endemic villages’ affected in four countries all in Africa, including South Sudan.

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