Internally displaced in South Sudan at great risk of disease outbreaks: WHO

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Political turmoil has displaced thousands in South Sudan (Photo: UNMISS).

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan has further deteriorated in the past two weeks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It says since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan on 15 December, the humanitarian needs have quickly been growing with a total of 195,416 persons displaced from the four states of South Sudan, namely Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile, and 75,171 of them taking shelter in the UN peacekeeping bases in Juba, Bor, Malakal, Bentiu, while an estimated 58,000 others are displaced in Aweriel County Lakes state.

As a result of this population displacement, there is a looming risk of disease outbreaks especially for water borne diseases, warns the World Health Organization.

Dr Abdi Aden Mohammed, the WHO Country Representative in South Sudan, says  "The poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in the camps, coupled with a shortage of health workers/health care providers, poses health risks to thousands of displaced persons in the UN camp bases."

He adds: "Even with the tremendous efforts made by health partners, sanitation conditions are still inadequate largely due to the large number of people sheltering in UN bases which have insufficient space to house these numbers [and] coupled with poor water and sanitation conditions, overcrowding in the camps may create conditions ripe for disease outbreaks."

In order to minimize the risks of potential outbreaks, WHO is working closely with health authorities and other health partners including the UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) medical team, to identify health workers in the displaced camps who can provide primary health care services, as well as support health education and promotion to all displaced persons.

To immediately respond to the ongoing crisis, the World Health Organization has provided trauma management and emergency health kits to the UNMISS clinics and to other partners engaged in management of trauma cases in the four states.

WHO has also provided essential drugs and medical supplies to UNMISS clinics to help them in the management of common illnesses.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’56″

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