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South Sudan close to eradicating Guinea Worm

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March 8, 2015 (JUBA) – United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) said South Sudan has reduced cases of Guinea Worm by 99% since 2005, meaning the country which still leads in cases of Guinea worm was now close to eradicating the deadly disease.

Currently, officials say the disease is now confined to Kapeota county in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state.

Guinea Worm is a parasite common in places where stagnant ponds or other unprotected water sources are used for drinking and in the household. The disease causes months of crippling pain, leaving child and adult victims unable to walk.

In 2005, however, 80% of the world’s Guinea Worm cases, 5,565 in total, occurred in South Sudan. Since then, efforts by UNICEF, World Health Organisation, the health ministry for Health and partners reduced the number of its cases to just 70 in 2014.

As part of its efforts, UNICEF said it has provided safe and clean drinking water to 3,000 children and their families in Kauto Payam, Eastern Equatoria, one of the last endemic areas of the country.

Other partners in the fight against Guinea Worm are Carter Center, WHO and the Ministries of Health and Water Resources and Irrigation.

Since the completion of the water system in Kauto, there have been no new cases of Guinea Worm in the area. UNICEF and partners have drilled 256 boreholes in South Sudan since 2006, providing safe water to more than 450,000 people in Guinea Worm affected areas.

“UNICEF is determined to see the end of this debilitating disease in South Sudan in the shortest time possible,” said UNICEF South Sudan representative, Jonathan Veitch.

“The solution to eradicating Guinea Worm for good couldn’t be simpler; clean water, good hygiene and safe sanitation,” he added.

3,000 people in Kauto and surrounding areas will have access to safe and clean drinking water as a result of the newly-upgraded water system. UNICEF is reportedly also supporting its ongoing maintenance, as well as complementary sanitation and hygiene measures in local communities.

Upgrading of the water system in endemic areas of Eastern Equatoria is funded by the Netherlands government.

(ST)

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