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South Sudan Success Stories: Operation of Disease Control Programmes During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Background Information

The MENTOR Initiative has been active in South Sudan since May 2012, providing malaria and other Vector-Borne Disease (VBD) prevention and control as well as Water Safety and Hygiene (WASH) activities in target vulnerable locations. MENTOR’s yearly indoor residual spraying (IRS) of surface insecticide campaigns target every shelter in the camps as well as the homes of nearby host communities. This activity is implemented just before the yearly rains start, to protect people throughout the malaria high-transmission season. IRS also protects people from other endemic VBDs such as Visceral Leishmaniasis. Larval source management and fly control activities are conducted as supplementary interventions to IRS together with complementary information, Education, and Communication and Behavioural Change Communication (IEC/BCC) sessions, whereby messages on malaria and other VBDs, how to identify, prevent and manage them are communicated.

Furthermore, training and technical coaching is provided to health care workers (HCWs) and managers/supervisors from health facilities in and around the camps. These trainings focus on the diagnosis of malaria and other VBDs as well as their appropriate treatment and case management. MENTOR also supplies medical commodities to these health facilities to prevent them from experiencing episodes of stock-outs and the subsequent inability to correctly diagnose and treat tropical diseases.

Malaria control amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

WHO has urgently called on countries to maintain core malaria control services whilst protecting health workers and communities against COVID-19 transmission. A WHO statement, shared widely on the 25th March 2020, was issued encouraging countries to maintain malaria-related activities and health services as a response to reports that some countries in sub-Saharan Africa had suspended malaria control activities due to the pandemic.

Key Achievements:

  1. Through the delivery of timely IRS and other VBD activities in MENTORs programme areas, the target population was protected from the typical malaria surge following the end of the rainy season. Areas such as Bentiu PoC where timely IRS activity was not conducted experienced very high case-loads at the end of the rainy season.
  2. Stock-outs of medical supplies were prevented and appropriate management of malaria cases was maintained.
  3. UNICEF funded WASH activities ran uninterrupted and were completed within the original set time frame.
  4. COVID-19 recommendations were successfully integrated into program implementation for all MENTORs activities. Ensuring safety of both staff and beneficiaries.
  5. COVID-19 messaging and risk communication was successfully integrated into trainings and service delivery of all MENTOR programmes ensuring effective dissemination of information and uptake of precautionary measures.
  6. Suffering and deaths from tropical diseases were effectively averted through continuation of MENTORs life-saving work during the global pandemic.
IRS & IEC/BCC on VBDs and COVID-19Households covered: 44,693 Beneficiaries reached: 238,787
Treatment of breeding sitesMosquito breeding sites: 84,428 Fly breeding sites: 88,309
TrainingsTotal trained for IRS activity: 704 Total Health workers trained: 70 Total Health workers trained on basic entomology: 24
Door to Door IEC/BCCBeneficiaries reached: 4,532
WASH activities in AweilTotal beneficiaries reached: 367,212 Beneficiaries reached by COVID-19 messaging: 144,519
Table 1: Summary of outreach during COVID-19 pandemic

The dynamic nature of MENTOR as an organization enabled successful integration of COVID-19 messages, guidelines and precautions into disease control and health promotion activities. Continuation of MENTOR activities not only prevented deaths and suffering from the targeted VBDs and WASH-related illnesses of our programmes but also improved awareness and hygiene practices in relation to COVID-19 and provided support to the local authorities and partner agencies in coping with the burden of the pandemic.

To read the full report, click here: Operation of disease control programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic, South Sudan

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