23 Feb 2006 15:44:00 GMT
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Switzerland
In response to the cholera outbreak in southern Sudan, the ICRC is airlifting some 30 tonnes of emergency medical supplies to Juba, the regional capital. These include infusions and oral rehydration salts, urgently needed for treatment now and to replenish fast-dwindling stocks.
Two flights from Nairobi have already delivered supplies to Juba Teaching Hospital (JTH). More are scheduled to reach the city in the next few days from the ICRC's logistics base at Lokichokio, northern Kenya. So far, over 800 people have been admitted to the JTH, of whom 24 have died. Over 1,000 cases have been reported in Juba, and 35 of them are also reported to have died.
The first cases of cholera were reported at the end of January in Yei, a town southwest of Juba, with the disease reaching Juba on 6 February. ICRC staff helped the JTH to manage and expand an isolation ward and installed an emergency water system. This included setting up a 10,000 litre storage bladder and increasing chlorine levels in the isolation ward water supply. The hospital's septic tank was emptied, two sewage pumps will shortly be arriving and some 20 containers equipped with washing facilities have been set up in the hospital compound. These and other preventative measures taken by the ICRC at the beginning of the outbreak have helped limit the spread of the disease.
The ICRC is coordinating its efforts with the health authorities and with other humanitarian agencies. The Sudanese Red Crescent is active in health education, sanitation and home visits, while the Netherlands Red Cross is operating a primary health-care centre in Juba. In Lologo camp, a transit camp for returnees on the city’s outskirts, the ICRC has erected a hospital tent for some 40 patients to help UNICEF set up an isolation area. In addition, the ICRC has provided a tent at Al Sabbah Hospital, where MSF-Spain has opened a centre.
Years of war have destroyed water and sewerage infrastructure, but the ICRC was here all through that period, supporting the JTH for the last 17 years. The organization recently stepped up its aid as the hospital struggled to cope with an influx of patients, the increased demand being due mainly to a rise in Juba's population following the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, plus an easing of movement restrictions.