MSF responding to severe cholera outbreak in Juba, southern Sudan

More than 1,800 cases have been recorded in two weeks in a non-endemic area.

Barcelona - MSF has started an emergency intervention in Southern Sudan to respond to a severe cholera outbreak in Juba town. The first suspected cases were reported at the end of January in the town of Yei, southwest of Juba, and since then the disease has spread quickly.

On February 6, the first suspected case was identified in Juba and a few days later the cholera outbreak was confirmed. After 15 days, on February 21, 1,864 cases and 45 deaths have already been recorded.

After mounting an emergency response in Yei, MSF's new emergency intervention will focus on Juba, a town of more than 250,000 inhabitants, designated as the capital city of southern Sudan after the 2005 North-South peace agreement. The objective of this intervention is to reduce mortality in infected cases and try to cut the spread of the disease.

A team is already working in a Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) that has been set up in Al Shaaba paediatric hospital. It will ensure adequate treatment in the CTC, train the local health staff, establish clear treatment protocols and ensure regular supplies.

The organization is planning to increase the capacity of the CTC and, if necessary, set up new structures in order to face the important number of new cases expected. For the time being, another CTC is running in Juba teaching hospital but it has already reached its full capacity.

Apart from the case management, MSF's team work towards a comprehensive strategy of response to the outbreak, coordinating with other actors to ensure an effective referral system, accurate surveillance of the evolution of the outbreak, provision of safe drinking water, safe burials and disinfection of the patients' houses. As the region is not an endemic cholera area, it is expected that the population will have limited knowledge about the transmission and prevention of the disease. Therefore emphasis will also be put on sensitisation activities.

The epidemic is affecting a non-endemic, urban area, where the population relies heavily on polluted water from the river Nile. For all these reasons a large outbreak can be expected. MSF currently has 11 international staff working on the ground and it will be reinforced with 7 more before the weekend. More than 70 tones of medical and logistics material will be sent to Juba in the coming days.