SOUTH SUDAN – Medical charity Doctors Without Borders, officially known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has been conducting malaria chemoprevention in the country to avert a looming outbreak due to the rainy season.
Seasonal malaria chemoprevention(MSC), is a public health intervention that can reduce the incidence of malaria among young children during the rainy season.
It has been recommended by the World Health Organization since 2012 in countries with high seasonal malaria transmission.
In a situational report, MSF says it has treated 22,400 people for malaria in the first three months of 2021.
“Years of conflict and insecurity have kept healthcare out of reach for many people across the country. This, combined with inconsistent malaria prevention activities, has made malaria the cause of more than one-third of all deaths in South Sudan,” MSF said in a press statement.
Each year across South Sudan, the rainy season brings massive spikes in malaria cases between July and November, with children under five years of age the most affected.
MSF says that in order to mitigate the upcoming malaria blowout, it has introduced a chemoprevention initiative to counter the disease.
The MSF says it carried out the first implementation of SMC in South Sudan in 2019 in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, and it was a success.
“Over the course of the intervention from July to December 2019, up to 13,689 children received monthly preventive malaria treatment, and the incidence of severe malaria was reduced by 77.1 percent, among children under five at Yambio State Hospital,” the medical charity said.
Buai Tut Chol, MSF medical coordinator support in South Sudan, says children under five years of age are the most at risk of complications and even death if infected with malaria.
He attributes the risk of malaria to complications such as anemia and convulsions, becoming unconscious, or being unable to talk or walk.
According to the World Health Organization, malaria is the number one killer disease in South Sudan.
In June 1, 2016, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in a report, stated that more than 200 deaths and half a million cases of malaria were reported in South Sudan since the beginning of that year.
Come 2017, an official at the Ministry of Health said 4,000 people died of malaria alone and nearly one million cases were recorded across the country.
“Malaria prevention activities must be a priority for international support in South Sudan, including seasonal malaria chemoprevention,” said Jean Stowell, MSF head of mission for South Sudan.
The Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), recognized WHOs innovations in the massive adoption of seasonal malaria chemoprevention and improved tools for managing the continuum of care for severe malaria in children in rural settings.
Equally endorsed is, the first single-dose treatment and molecular diagnostic test for relapsing malaria, and a test to detect genetic anomalies limiting treatment options as well as the first wave of second-generation bed nets with new insecticide combinations.
In a publication, MMV said the innovations will spearhead breakthroughs in malaria control and prevention and advised states to invest more toward implementing anti-malaria innovations.