Updated January 31st, 2024 at 16:36 IST

South Sudan's Battle Against Hepatitis E Compounded by Severe Flooding

Efforts to tackle the disease are being impeded by widespread flooding that isolates populations and transforms villages into islands.

Reported by: Sagar Kar
South Sudan | Image:AP
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In the midst of a severe hepatitis E outbreak in South Sudan, efforts to tackle the disease are being impeded by widespread flooding that isolates populations and transforms villages into islands. According to a report from The Guardian, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has initiated a groundbreaking vaccination campaign, but the full extent of the outbreak remains unknown due to logistical challenges.

Health workers from MSF are facing arduous eight-hour boat trips to deliver vaccines to affected villages in Fangak county, located in northern South Sudan. While MSF has recorded 21 deaths and treated over 500 individuals infected with hepatitis E in the past nine months, a significant portion of the population in the region lacks access to healthcare.

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Here is what you need to know

This vaccination campaign marks the first attempt to address an acute hepatitis E outbreak while grappling with the added complexity of transporting vaccines from China, where they are manufactured. Hepatitis E, transmitted through contaminated water, has no cure and poses a potential threat to pregnant women. Although relatively rare in developed nations, it infects over 20 million people annually in regions with inadequate sanitation.

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MSF aims to reach 12,000 women aged 16 to 45 by June, but the challenging circumstances present significant obstacles. Repeated flooding has submerged vast areas of the countryside, exacerbating malaria rates as mosquitoes thrive in stagnant floodwaters. 

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Published January 31st, 2024 at 15:21 IST