The South Sudanese in Juba yesterday observed World Malaria Day at Nyakuron Cultural Center together with other 99 countries. The Minister of Health Dr. Michael Milly Hussein expressed having wanted to see more women present at this occasion because they are the main target. "I had wanted to see a group of women today because they are our target," he said.
As per statistics, pregnant women and children under the age of five are the most vulnerable group. Continuing, the minister appealed to young children and teenagers present at the function to pass the message on to their parents back at home and fellow children.
Meanwhile Dr. Emmanuel Ija, the Minister of Health, Central Equatoria State urged the gathering to clear out stagnant water around their living areas because it is in such places that mosquitoes breed.
According to Dr. Yatta Lugor, Deputy Minister of Health in RSS Government, most South Sudanese are downplaying malaria when they know it kills, "malaria is being downplayed by most of our people in South Sudan and yet we know that malaria kills," he said.
In addition he commented that while taking a malaria test one smear with negative result is not enough to declare somebody malaria free and therefore advised that three to four smears be taken for three to four consecutive days, if all these tests turn out negative then it is fit to declare one malaria free.
Furthermore, Dr. Yatta expressed that they have equipped health centers in areas such as Munuki, Nyakuron, Kator and Gure with qualified health workers; hence advised people to visit these centers first before going to private clinics. Just within Central Equatoria State alone, there are 45 health facilities, according to him.
Speaking, Dr. Samson Paul Baba, Director General for Public and Community Health stated that 20-40% of illness and more than 20% of mortality rates in South Sudan are as a result of malaria, among them mostly pregnant women and children under the age of five.
What is more is that more than 95% of South Sudan has conditions which are favorable for malaria transmission, rainy season which is much longer in the Southern part of the country.
Some of the key elements of the malaria control strategy by the Ministry of Health include: Malaria prevention, for instance use of treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying and environmental management where applicable.
Secondly early diagnosis and treatment of the disease is important to increase access to appropriate diagnosis and effective anti-malarial medicines in both public and private sectors.
Third, malaria should be controlled in expectant mothers by providing treated mosquito nets and treatment of malaria as part of anti -natal care.
People also should be able to detect malaria early and respond quickly to its outbreak.
However, South Sudan is making progress in fighting against malaria, for instance key national control policies, guidelines and tools have been developed. Also, eight states have been provided infrastructural support including a program vehicle, computer and office furniture.