Outbreak fears as cholera kills 19 in South Sudan

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Christophe Boulierac from UN children’s agency UNICEF warned of a greater loss of life if the disease spreads out of Juba. Photo: UNifeed

Five thousand children are believed at risk of a cholera outbreak in South Sudan which has already killed 19 people, UN children’s agency UNICEF warned Friday.

So far, the disease has been contained to the capital Juba.

But the worry is that it could easily spread amid continued fighting which has shut down nearly 200 health centres.

Daniel Johnson has more.

As if South Sudan needed any more problems, now it’s got a cholera outbreak to deal with.

For the time being it’s limited to the capital Juba.

But fighting between government and rebel forces has either destroyed or shut 184 health centres, leaving people vulnerable to infection.

And the rainy season could well increase the risk of transmission between now and November.

Here’s Christophe Boulierac, spokesperson for UN children’s agency UNICEF:

“If the outbreak spreads beyond Juba, especially into the states affected by conflict, the lack of functioning health facilities will lead to a greater loss of life…UNICEF is supporting the provision of life-saving health supplies to treat cholera as well as preventive measures.”

So far there have been more than 200 suspected cases and children under five years of age have accounted for 15 per cent of them.

The disease is particularly dangerous for young children as its symptoms – which include diarrhoea and vomiting – cause severe dehydration.

To continue its efforts against cholera, UNICEF says it needs US$4.6 million.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’07”

Human Rights