To strengthen the capacities to detect, investigate and respond to suspected Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), WHO supported the Ministry of Health to deploy a multidisciplinary team of epidemiologists, clinicians and infection prevention and control (IPC) officers, and risk communication experts to Morobo and Yei River counties of Central Equatoria State to strengthen coordination, surveillance, IPC, and risk communication activities for prevention, detection, investigation and response to a threat of cross-border spread of the EVD outbreak.
During the mission, the team implemented several EVD outbreak preparedness priority activities including reactivating the emergency response coordinating taskforce, reconstituting, and training the county rapid response teams, conducting risk communication, social mobilization and community engagement activities and galvanizing community support for prevention. Health facility visits were also conducted to strengthen capacities for EVD case detection and reporting infection prevention and control as well.
In addition, the team also conducted a one-day Tabletop simulation exercise and a half-day of drills on donning and doffing of personal protective equipment for the county rapid response teams. The exercise aimed at enhancing rapid response teams’ operational readiness by familiarizing participants with the EVD Standard Operating Procedures on rapid response team activation, deployment, and field investigation procedures. It also provided participants with an opportunity to evaluate current capabilities and resources for prompt deployment in response to any suspected EVD case.
The expertise engaged in the Tabletop simulation exercise included epidemiologists, surveillance officers, doctors, clinical officers, and nurses, laboratory experts, communication and social mobilization officers, psychosocial support experts, data managers, infection prevention and control experts, veterinary officer, environmental officer, reproductive health experts, midwives, and members of the safe and dignified burial teams.
Mr Yona Kenyi, State Surveillance Officer, central Equatoria State Ministry of Health, said the ongoing EVD transmission in DRC puts South Sudan at risk and we must remain vigilant and prepared to respond to any potential EVD case.
“Although no case of Ebola has been confirmed in South Sudan, one suspect case of Ebola has been investigated from Yambio and tested negative for Ebola and Marburg virus following tests in the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL),” said Mr Yona. “We must start working together with partners, mobilize necessary resources and remain ready to detect, report, investigate and respond to any suspicious cases and deaths”.
Dr Fabian Ndenzako, the WHO Representative for South Sudan said, “WHO has started developing a response plan and mobilizing resources to ensure that required preparedness and readiness priority activities are implemented”. “This week, WHO replenished the Ministry of Health stock of Ebola test kits in the NPHL thus enhancing country readiness for Ebola confirmation”. Dr Ndenzako also reiterated WHO’s commitment to supporting enhanced national capacities for preparedness, surveillance and response to preserve national and international public health security.
Since the EVD outbreak declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Ministry of Health with technical and logistical support from WHO and partners are scaling up preparedness and response readiness capacities in the high-risk counties of Morobo and Yei River of Central Equatoria State. The counties share direct borders with North Kivu Province.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – South Sudan.