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South Sudan takes stride in eliminating burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases

By Okech Francis

Aided by health partners, South Sudan, a country heavily burdened by Neglected Tropical Diseases is endeavoring to eliminate it, Health Minister Elizabeth Achuei Yol said.

The African nation has a high burden of neglected tropical diseases including elephantiasis, bilharzia, intestinal worms, river blindness, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness, Kala-Azar, Buruli ulcer, rabies, mycetomas, and guinea worm, according to a statement on Sunday by World Health Organization.

WHO said great advances in reducing the presence of devastating chronic infections have taken place in South Sudan in the past few years, a country were infections that have been so common, such as river blindness was first described almost 100 years ago.  

The diseases are blamed for reducing productivity and affecting the socio-economic development of the country.

“Chronic infections, conditions and disability caused by these endemic diseases have caused illnesses and needless death and affect livelihoods of many families in South Sudan”, Yol said in the statement.

“With support from WHO and other partners, South Sudan is implementing necessary interventions to not only eliminate these chronic infections but is also supporting the care of those suffering the adverse consequences.”

South Sudan joined the rest of the world to commemorate the first World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day over the weekend.

The Neglected Tropical Diseases are believed to have affected more than 1.5 billion people globally.

Approximately one-third of these live in Africa with South Sudan being among the top countries experiencing huge burdens inflicted by this poverty induced diseases.

This year’s event was marked under the theme “achieving health equity to end the neglect of poverty-related diseases,” and is aimed to raise awareness on NTDs, maintain the momentum towards elimination and call upon all partners and stakeholders to work together towards this goal.

Yol urged all stakeholders to re-energize and renew their commitment to ending the suffering from these diseases in South Sudan.

She emphasized the need for more resources to ensure effective response and management of cases.

Dr Fabian Ndenzako, the WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan pledged WHO’s continued commitment to support South Sudan to scale up the control efforts of the Neglected Tropical Diseases with the eventual aim of achieving prevention, control, elimination as well as their eradication.

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