Over 150 participants took a major step to end malaria in South Sudan during the first-ever national malaria conference that took place from 8 to 10 November 2022.
Malaria remains the leading cause of illness and death in the country accounting for 66.8 per cent of outpatient consultations, 30 per cent of admissions and about 50 per cent of deaths.
“Malaria is preventable and treatable, and we cannot continue to lose lives needlessly”, said H.E. Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol Agany. “We cannot continue doing business as usual. Malaria is an emergency and cannot just be the business of the Ministry of Health. I therefore call upon all of us, the public and private sectors, Intentional Organisations, UN Agencies, NGOS, Civil Society Organisations and communities to take action and fight this disease”, said H.E Abdelbagi.
“Malaria is a disease that is well known to everybody in this nation. It is treatable and preventable, yet half of the people especially children under five years of age and those with compromised immunity die from malaria. Recent data shows that three out of 10 hospital admissions are due to malaria. This shows that we are still a long way to go”, said Honorable Yolanda Awel Deng, Minister of Health, South Sudan.
The Ministry of Health together with its partners has made some progress in terms of prevention, treatment, and case management. “According to the 2017 Malaria Indicator Survey, 48 per cent of households slept under an insecticide treated net the previous night”, said Honorable Deng. “ Hon. Deng pledged USD 500 000 from the 2022/2023 budget to fight malaria and urged partners for continued long-term sustainable support to implement targeted interventions towards reducing the burden of malaria”.
Although great progress has been made in malaria control, major challenges such as the inadequate supply of malaria commodities at the utilization level, fragility of health systems, flooding, population displacements and food and nutrition insecurity affects the implementations of key malaria control and prevention interventions.
“Malaria is our number one enemy. One person dies of malaria every hour in this country”, said George Otoo, Head RCO, Strategic Planner on behalf of Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. “It is time to act. Let us all unite and fight malaria. To fight malaria, we need domestic resources to strengthen Health systems and build more confidence in donors to provide the necessary support so that we are able to mount a good front against this disease”.
“Malaria remains a significant public health and development challenge globally. Last year, about 95 per cent of the estimated 228 million cases occurred in the WHO African Region, along with over 600,000 reported deaths”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO South Sudan Representative a.i. “In South Sudan malaria is the number one killer. The World Malaria Report 2021 estimated that about 20 people die of malaria daily and over 8,500 people get malaria daily”.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.
Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease severity, prevents deaths, and contributes to reducing transmission.
The Republic of South Sudan’s Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization and other partners convened the conference to call for multisectoral collaborative approaches towards targeted interventions to accelerate the reduction of malaria illness and death towards the larger goal of achieving Universal Health Coverage.
The conference offered a platform for the government to update stakeholders on efforts towards the delivery of healthcare services at all levels with a special focus on malaria interventions. Also present at the conference were Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda to share their experience in the reduction and control of the malaria burden.
The conference also sought to formulate ways through which the government and partners can work together to strengthen the national and local institutions to address the key drivers of Malaria which includes flooding, food insecurity, population displacement due to conflict and climate change and develop capacities to deliver healthcare services to the population.
The conference with the theme “saving lives from malaria in a protracted humanitarian emergency setting” galvanized plans and actions by South Sudan’s health sector. Partners have re-committed to taking action to reduce the preventable impact of malaria on the population and ensure access to quality healthcare services for everyone in South Sudan.
At the conclusion of the three-day event, H.E. Abdelbagi announced the launch of the Zero Malaria in South Sudan Starts With Me campaign to add his voice and commitment towards a Malaria Free South Sudan.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – South Sudan.