Amref Health Africa has supported the creation of the first ever working laboratory in South Sudan able to test for diseases like cholera, in response to recent outbreaks in Juba.
More than one million people have been displaced across South Sudan since fighting broke out in December. This situation has meant that thousands of people are living in camps where access to basic facilities such as clean water and sanitation points is extremely stretched. Without these facilities, risk of many diseases sharply increases. A recent outbreak of cholera in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, left 23 people dead and forced more than 670 to seek treatment.
Amref Health Africa's laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya was the nearest facility able to analyze suspected disease samples and we have been testing a number of samples from the recent outbreak in Juba. However, the distance between Juba and Nairobi slowed down this process, leaving almost a week between diagnosis and treatment.
Since then, our laboratory and diagnostics department has been able to establish a laboratory in Juba which can now run the tests in South Sudan for the first time in its history. Diagnosis is now possible within 24 hours.
June 7, 2014 (JUBA)
The process of testing cholera samples, previously done in Kenya and Uganda, will soon be conducted from within South Sudan, an official has disclosed.
“This will reduce the turnaround time since tests will be run locally here. Amref Health Africa will now act as quality control agency”, said Jackson Songok, a project officer at Amref Health Africa.
The move, he added, would ensure cholera cases are better managed since doctors will get timely results and immediately determine which drugs to administer to patients.
Amref Health Africa, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the health ministry is reportedly boosting capacities of national laboratories to enable them to conduct cholera tests in Juba.
Recently, however, the foundation brought into South Sudan an expert now tasked with tutoring laboratory technicians on the microbiology and parasitological nature of deadly diseases.
Aneno Irene Oriech, one of the trainees, appealed to government to continue working with Amref Health Africa and ensure more trainings are conducted to strengthen Juba's laboratories.
Abiem Bona, another trainee, said he was getting hands-on experience on laboratory matters, having previously undertaken theoretical trainings in Khartoum.
“I am trained in microbiology from Khartoum, but I have not been practicing because there is no microbiology laboratory”, he said.
While addressing Tuesday’s health cluster meeting in Juba, health minister, Riek Gai Kok said the country, through the national laboratory, was due to locally start confirming disease outbreaks.
Recently, a cholera outbreak in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, left 23 people dead and forced more than 670 others to seek treatment, according to the country’s health ministry.