Medicine Sans Frontières in Press Statement on Thursday has called for an increase in access to anti-malarial treatment saying that the ongoing conflict in South Sudan affecting directly the North and the East of the country has diverted the attention from ongoing regular healthcare concerns like malaria epidemic which is affecting the West of the country.
Doctors Without Border said that there have been insufficient distributions of anti-malarial drugs in many peripheral health centers and as a consequence they reported an increase in the number of severe life-threatening cases.
‘’Every year with the rainy season, mosquitoes multiply in the standing water and the number of malaria cases increases. This year, the epidemic is particularly widespread in the western parts of the country,’’ reads their statement.
MSF added that unusually prolonged and heavy rainfall in many areas and the lack of available treatments in some peripheral health centers means that many patients have had to travel to their health structures to be treated stressing that these people arrive after hours or days of travel in serious medical condition.
‘’MSF health facilties in Aweil and Pamat, Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, Gogrial in Warrap state, Yambio in Western Equatoria state and Agok in Abyei territory have treated nearly 60,000 patients since the beginning of the year,’’ The press release pointed ‘’More than 10% of them have been hospitalized. This is more than triple the number of patients seen during the same period of last year’’.
Renee Madrolle, MSF project coordinator in Aweil said that their organization alone cannot cover all the needs in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Western Equatoria states and Abyei territory voicing that more international health actors must be mobilized along the Ministry of Health to provide access to anti-malarial treatment to the population.
The partner organizations of the Ministry of Health have been ineffective in distributing diagnostics rapid tests and drugs due to the current conflict and because of structural problems in the supply chain MSF said.
‘’These supply problems have had two major consequences on the health system. Firstly in terms of timely distribution: the drugs in Juba could not be delivered at the beginning of the rainy season when the first spike of malaria cases occurred end of May beginning of June 2014,’’ said the charity, ‘’Secondly, there were not enough drugs available for a comprehensive distribution in peripheral health centers and only a few facilities received them. As a consequence, there are large areas affected by malaria where people lack access to treatment’’.
In response to these needs, MSF urgently brought extra supplies of malaria rapid diagnostic tests and malaria treatments in most of the MSF projects in the West affected by malaria. MSF has set up a dedicated day care malaria zone in Gogrial health centre to cope with the overwhelming number of patients. In June MSF also opened activities in the outpatient department of Aweil hospital to identify new infections and provide treatment. The most severe cases are hospitalized in a specific 35-bed treatment unit set up by MSF in July inside the hospital. Today this capacity is insufficient. The press release continued.
MSF said in September, 71% of cases in the pediatric department in Aweil hospital were malaria adding that it also regularly organizes mobile clinics in the most remote areas to reduce the number of severe cases coming to the hospital due to late treatment.
In September, MSF treated in the western part of the country more than 10,000 cases of malaria. Madrolle said.
“Some patients die while they could have been easily saved if they had had access to treatment earlier, “said Renee Madrolle, project coordinator for MSF in Aweil State Hospital which is the reference hospital of the Northern Bahr el Ghazal.”Malaria is the first cause of mortality in Aweil during the rainy season, and children are the most affected.”