On Thursday, South Sudan appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance of 12 million U.S. dollars to enhance its campaign against Ebola after an outbreak of the deadly viral disease was reported in neighboring Uganda.
Riek Gai Kok, minister for health, said the confirmation of Ebola in Uganda’s western district of Kasese has created a public health scare and put the young republic at high risk of the hemorrhagic fever disease.
“The confirmed cases in Uganda are sobering reminders that the spread of Ebola virus has no respect for physical borders,” Kok told a stakeholders conference in Juba.
“With the outbreak in DRC still uncontained and spreading fast, we need to take urgent steps to protect people in South Sudan from a possible attack and ensure of quick response quickly if the virus invades our country,” Kok said.
He spoke at the launch of the country’s updated second national plan on how to stop the disease from gaining a foothold in the country, during which he made the appeal to donors and partners on the need to keep the bug at bay away from the citizens of South Sudan.
He said the new plan will build on achievements from the previous period by identifying gaps and prioritize activities for the next six months, adding that the UN agencies and partners have been working collectively since August 2018 on prevention and preparedness.
He noted that the strategy includes 72-hour outbreak response and containment plan and vaccine readiness at the 25 screening sites established at border entry points.
Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan said since the country launched vaccination of the front-line workers in January, a total of 2,793 healthcare and forefront workers across the nation have been vaccinated against the virus.
“The cost of managing a fully-fledged outbreak is unimaginable compared to prevention and would include immense human suffering, long-term economic damage, and further depletion of an already weak healthcare system. We cannot allow it to happen,” he said.
The highly contagious virus’ symptoms are manifested by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized pain and in many cases internal and external bleeding and can cause death in a matter of hours.