Despite receding flood waters, malaria takes toll in Unity State

By Chondok Stephen Magei

Flood waters are subsiding in South Sudan but malaria is taking toll in some of the worst hit areas.

More ground is being recovered after the floods in Unity State but stagnant ponds of water have become hotbed breeding spots for mosquitoes, the carriers of the parasite.

In Unity State capital Bentiu, Nyawuok Majang has just recovered from a bout of malaria and believes without preventive measures, she is bound to be infected again.

“Mosquito nets are available in the markets, but I have no money to buy because they are expensive,” Majang told Juba Echo in an interview in Bentiu.

The 56-year-old and her two children live in a makeshift shelter that can’t protect them from the adverse climate amidst flooding.

“I suffered from malaria, even my two children because we live in temporary shelter without mosquito nets,” she said.

Her request is to humanitarian organizations to provide them with mosquito nets.

Tot Jokchieng, the acting Minister of Health said Bentiu Hospital alone recorded over 1000 cases in the month of January.

“Cases of malaria are increasing daily in Bentiu hospital. From December 30 to January 31, malaria cases recorded are 1,220 patients, of which many adults and children died of diarrhea and malaria,” Jokchieng.

According to Joseph Kuot Gai, a clinical officer with the World Relief, an organization working in the health sector in Unity State, cases of malaria have risen sharply as a result of the floods itself and lack of preventive measures.

Hospitals are overwhelmed with cases of malaria, depicting the high spike in the ailment, Gai told Juba Echo in an interview.

The charity’s clinic registered 460 cases in January.

“Just in an hour we receive malaria patients and most of them are children, pregnant women and elderly people because of their vulnerability,” Gai said.

“There is need for malaria campaign.”

A fellow clinician with the charity, Koang Chuol confided in Juba Echo that 117 cases have already been recorded this month.

Malaria is a killer disease and is common in Unity State because of flooding and lack of balance diet in the food the people eat, according to David Machiek, a teacher at Liech Primary School in Bentiu.

Mosquito nets are very essential for its prevention but “communities do not use their mosquito nets in the right way,” Machiek told Juba Echo.

“Sleeping without mosquito nets increase malaria.”

Martha Diang Ret, who lives in Bentiu IDP camp is down with the ailment, and as well her four children.

The last time she received a mosquito net was in May, and it’s now torn.

“I and my four children, we are really suffering from malaria as you see them lying on the ground,” Ret said when Juba Echo visited her home.

“From December up to now we feel sick it may be because we are living near a water drainage,” she said, adding, “we were all found malaria positive when we came to get our medication.”

According to Nyanam Tang, the chairperson of the Community High Committee in Bentiu IDP camp said many people expose themselves sitting outside late into the night without protection and as well do not use mosquito nets when sleeping.

“The issue is that many of them are sleeping late giving mosquitoes the chance to bite them,” Tang told Juba Echo.

“My advice is that all people should sleep early, under treated mosquito nets or buy local mosquito nets in the markets.”

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