Juba, 13 November 2017: The worsening security situation in South Sudan, along with increased population movement, reduced health system functionality, disruption of health services, surveillance, outbreak response systems, and other disease control measures, led to an increased risk and vulnerability to more frequent disease outbreaks.
To enhance capacities for accurate diagnosis and proper management of cases of priority diseases, WHO supported the Ministry of Health to train 44 frontline healthcare workers currently offering the much-needed health services in Lainya and Yei River Counties, on the management of common epidemic prone priority diseases from 1 to 6 November 2017.
The objective was to equip the frontline healthcare workers in Lainya and Yei River Counties with appropriate knowledge and skills on diagnosis and management of the common and prevailing epidemic-prone priority diseases including cholera and malaria.
The training exposed the frontline healthcare workers to the standard national treatment guidelines and protocols for the country. These participants shared practical experiences and after the training joined the cohort of healthcare workers that are supporting disease surveillance and health service delivery in the various health facilities.
“South Sudan has registered remarkable achievements since the adoption of the integrated disease surveillance and response (IDSR) strategy in 2006”, said Mr Julu Louis Kenyi Joseph, the WHO State Coordinator for Central Equatoria Hub. Since 2009, WHO with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported the Ministry of Health to train healthcare workers on IDSR and proper case management using the respective Ministry of Health training and treatment guidelines. However, the armed conflict has grossly impacted the healthcare system including human resources, Mr Julu emphasized.
Accurate case detection at facility and community level is critical for timely identification of emerging outbreaks and other public health threats. Given the enhanced risk and vulnerabilities to disease outbreaks in South Sudan, it is imperative that these capacities are propped up to allow timely triggering of national emergency response protocols. “These capacities are core to the IDSR strategy and the International Health Regulations (2005), and are intended to enhance national and international public health security,” said Dr Joseph Wamala, Technical Coordinator for IDSR in WHO South Sudan.
The Greater Equatoria Region is one of the conflict hard hit areas where many of the qualified healthcare workers were displaced either internally or fled to the neighboring countries for their safety.
“Investing in health workforce is critical to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs),” said Mr Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan. The need for building the capacity of frontline health workers is crucial for effective surveillance and management of communicable diseases” Mr Liyosi added.
With the overall goal of reducing mortality and morbidity related to common epidemic prone priority disease, WHO has been strengthening the national disease surveillance, response, and control systems to save the lives of the vulnerable population.