South Sudan: More gloom as kala azar hits

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The quandary in South Sudan has been worsened by reports of the rising deaths of its citizens plagued by fly-borne kala azar tropical disease. The South Sudan Health Ministry said at least 31 people have died in the last two months.

South Sudan is still recovering from decades of war with north Sudan- a war that has claimed about two million lives in a conflict fuelled by religion, resources, ethnicity and ideology.

While civil unrest remains a problem in the desert country, Kala azar- the tropical disease endemic in some parts of south Sudan; contracted by the bite of a sand fly, has added to the plight of south Sudanese with fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, nosebleeds, swollen spleen and jaundice.

“These cases have been much earlier than normal. About 31 people died in June and July, compared to eight deaths in the previous six months. These are only the number of registered deaths.

“It is likely that there are more deaths out in the communities. Tribal clashes have meant that access to medical services has been reduced,” Dr Munir Lugga, director of the tropical endemic diseases in south Sudan was quoted.

According to Lugga, the normal peak infection rates were expected from September to March. Almost all untreated victims die within one to four months.

“Accessibility to health services has also declined with the onset of the rainy season. The ministry has enough drugs to treat all those suffering. However, the problem is that people in the remote areas do not have the access (to health services). Many must walk for as much as 10 hours to reach a clinic,” Lugga added.

Observers say the disease could affect other remote areas, including areas hard hit by clashes. The outbreak occurs every five to 10 years. South Sudan Health Ministry also warned that the actual death toll could be higher.

The outbreak of the , Kala azar the tropical disease is an added yoke to south Sudan where, according to UN estimates, about 700 people have been killed and more than 152,000 people forced from their homes across south Sudan since January.

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