Malaria rates increase dramatically in southern Sudanese region

"Our planning includes sending an exploratory team to all the villages around our intervention zones, and ensuring that the population is informed about MSF medical facilities. In case we find some areas without access, we'll see if it is possible to send a mobile medical team." - MSF head of mission for southern Sudan, Tiffany Moore. MSF teams are closely monitoring the worryingly high rates of malaria which has struck the Bahr el Ghazal region of southern Sudan. Statistics compiled from MSF clinics across the region show that nearly 3,800 people have tested positive for the disease in the last four weeks. "This figure is over double that for the corresponding period in 2003," explains MSF head of mission for southern Sudan, Tiffany Moore. "And what is particularly concerning is that the rainy season has not yet fully arrived, and that is normally the time when the number of malaria cases peaks." The young are especially vulnerable to the disease and the latest upsurge has affected children under five years old particularly hard. In the first two weeks of July, MSF treated 946 children in this age group. And while the number of new cases per week is high in itself, the MSF team suspects that many more people will have contacted the deadly disease in villages which are out of reach of medical care. "It's possible that some of the population do not have access to care," continues Moore. "Our planning includes sending an exploratory team to all the villages around our intervention zones, and ensuring that the population is informed about MSF medical facilities. In case we find some areas without access, we'll see if it is possible to send a mobile medical team." Southern Sudan is just emerging from years of debilitating civil war with the north, and the country faces vast needs in all areas of healthcare. MSF teams work in numerous areas across the south, with projects ranging from aiding the displaced to fighting diseases such as Tuberculosis, Ebola and Kala Azar. In the Bahr El Ghazal region, MSF has been providing primary healthcare assistance to the population since the early nineties, as well as training Sudanese medical staff and maintaining an early warning system in case of disease outbreak.