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South Sudan needs $12 million for Ebola fight: minister

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South Sudan’s Ministry of Health on Thursday launched an appeal for $12 million to boost its Ebola preparedness plan in the wake of confirmed Ebola cases in neighboring Uganda.

A 50-year-old woman infected with Ebola died in western Uganda on Wednesday, a day after her five-year-old grandson died.

As of 11 June, the World Health Organization reported 2,084 Ebola cases, including 1,990 confirmed and 94 probable cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The organization also reported a total of 1,311 deaths among confirmed cases.

Health Minister Riek Gai Kok made the appeal at a press conference in Juba in the presence of the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the country.

“The confirmed cases in Uganda are sobering reminders that the Ebola virus has no respect for borders,” Gai said in a statement read out by Dr. Richard Laku, the director general of the ministry of health.

“With the outbreak in DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] not yet under control and spreading fast, we have to take urgent steps to further protect people and residents in South Sudan and make sure we respond quickly if the virus crosses into the country,” he added.

The minister stressed the need to keep South Sudan free from the deadly Ebola virus. “We are urgently appealing to donors to step up and help us to keep South Sudan Ebola free,” he further stressed.

Since August 2018, the health ministry, United Nations and partners have been working collectively on prevention and readiness for any possible outbreak of the Ebola disease, according to the minister.

Meanwhile Gai said they have adopted a strategy, which includes a 72-hour outbreak response and containment plan and vaccine readiness at the 25 screening sites established at border entry points.

For his part, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in South Sudan, Dr. Olushayo Oluseun said there were 25-30 points of entry, including at Juba International Airport, where a number of isolation and holding units have been installed in the event of any reported cases.

“There is need to have that concerted effort to sustain what we have achieved. It is important for us to keep the momentum up,” he said.

South Sudan suffered Ebola outbreak in 2004 after WHO reported 20 cases including 5 deaths from Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) in Yambio.

Ebola is a rare, but deadly viral disease that causes fever, body aches, diarrhea and sometimes bleeding inside and outside the body.

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