STAMFORD, Conn. - To help stem the deadly cholera outbreak in South Sudan, Stamford-based AmeriCares is sending emergency medical aid to the scene.
The highly infectious disease has been spreading rapidly in the war-torn country since late April, sickening more than 1,800 people and killing 39, AmeriCares said in a statement.
The country’s violent civil war has disrupted health systems and forced people into crowded and often unsanitary living situations where cholera can easily spread, the statement said. Cholera, which is contracted from contaminated food and water, causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. Left untreated, the most seriously infected patients can die within hours.
The emergency shipment has arrived in Juba. It contains enough medicine for 5,000 patients – rehydration therapies, including oral rehydration salts, for 4,500 people with moderate cases and intravenous fluids to treat 500 patients with extreme cases. AmeriCares is working with the International Organization for Migration to distribute the medicines to treatment centers in affected areas.
“Poor sanitation services and limited access to clean water make South Sudan particularly susceptible to the spread of cholera," said Garrett Ingoglia, AmeriCares vice president of emergency response . “The good news is that with treatment, infected patients have an excellent chance of survival. Most will recover within a few days if they begin treatment right away.”
South Sudan was in the midst of a brutal political conflict when cholera was first reported in April. Since the fighting broke out in December, more than 1 million people fleeing the violence have been displaced within the country, and an additional 350,000 have fled to neighboring countries.
In early April, AmeriCares sent an emergency shipment to neighboring Uganda, where more than 100,000 South Sudanese have sought refuge from the fighting. That shipment contained enough basic medicines and supplies to support the needs of a population of 20,000 for three months. AmeriCares is sending a second shipment with enough medicine to support a population of 20,000 to a partner organization in South Sudan operating health clinics for displaced families.
AmeriCares has been aiding survivors of natural disasters, disease outbreaks, political conflict and extreme poverty around the world for more than 30 years, saving lives and restoring health and hope. The global health and disaster relief organization has responded to cholera outbreaks in recent years in Haiti, Kenya, Somalia and Sierra Leone.
Donations are welcome.