Home | News    Tuesday 7 February 2006

UN rushes health supplies to control deadly diarrhea in southern Sudan

Feb 6, 2006 (NAIROBI) — The United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) said here Monday it was rushing emergency health supplies to control deadly diarrhea outbreak in Yei town of southern Sudan which has claimed 12 lives.

In a statement issued in Nairobi, UNICEF also said it was appealing for 20.3 million U.S. dollars for water, sanitation and hygiene programs in southern Sudan for 2006 as part of the UN and Partners Work Plan launched last December.

UNICEF said the exact nature of the outbreak is under investigation and further samples are to be collected and tested in the laboratories of neighboring Kenya.

"UNICEF has rushed emergency health supplies to the busy crossroads town of Yei in southern Sudan to respond to a deadly outbreak of acute watery diarrhea that has claimed the lives of 12 people, two of them children, among over 600 known cases," the statement said.

The outbreak was first reported last Saturday with three deaths and 48 patients admitted in local health facilities.

The disease ripped rapidly through the town, leaving hundreds of people needing medical attention - about half of them children.

Reports say the outbreak has now reached at least one outlying village.

"UNICEF moved swiftly to draw on its stores in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, and a truck carrying life-saving supplies arrived in Yei on February 4 to replenish the hospital in Yei which had run out of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and IV fluids," it said.

The UN agency said it was mobilizing medical and water and sanitation stocks as part of a coordinated response including UN agencies and local and international NGOs, and led by the government of southern Sudan’s health authorities.

A broad effort was also being mounted by UN agencies in Yei to enhance access to clean water and sanitation as well as launch public awareness campaigns about the importance of good hygiene and clean water which include house-to-house visits, it said.

"Water storage bladders, thousands of jerry cans, buckets, chlorine and soap are also being dispatched by road from UNICEF stores in Rumbek today," said UNICEF.

Clean water supply in the vast region which emerged from 21 years of civil strife last year, is generally lacking, with less than a third of the population having access to a safe source.

Very limited sanitation facilities and a generally poor hygiene situation worsen the threat. Diarrhea is a major killer of children.