Humanitarian Health Action

WHO responds to the worsening humanitarian crisis in South Sudan

Map of South Sudan

27 December 2013 -- Provision of medical supplies, disease surveillance and coordination with health partners are key interventions the World Health Organization (WHO) is undertaking in South Sudan to respond to the violence that began on December 15th and has already displaced more than 120,000 people across the country.

In the first week after the violence erupted, the main hospital in the capital, the Juba Teaching Hospital, admitted 445 patients with gunshot wounds. WHO provided emergency medical supplies to treat the wounded and two outdoor tents so hospital can expand admission space for the injured. The capacity is stretched, as limited numbers of medical personnel struggled to cope with the arriving patients.

In addition, many people fleeing violence found refuge in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compounds across South Sudan. Currently 63,000 people are being protected by UN forces. The UNMISS medical unit that provides basic health services to displaced seeking shelter in the compounds.

With poor sanitation and crowded living conditions in several of the IDP sites, diseases like measles, malaria and diarrhoea are a potential threat to the displaced people.

Health partners will conduct a measles and polio vaccination campaign in the two Juba sites on 29-31 December, targeting children from 6 months to 15 years with measles vaccines and all children from 0-15 years with polio vaccines

About a quarter of the displaced persons seeking medical attention are in need of malaria treatment; so WHO is including antimalarial medicines in the medical supplies delivered to a Cambodian hospital operating within the UNMISS compound in Juba. Given the large number of displaced persons in the compounds, WHO also continues to work closely with the UNMISS team to monitor for disease outbreaks in the cramped living conditions inside UN Mission compounds.

Medical supplies were delivered to the UN base in Bentiu on 25 December. More supplies are planned to go to Bentiu and Malakal on 27 December.

Initial assessment showed no damage to health facilities in Juba although the peripheral health facilities remain operational at a limited scale. The main hospital in Bor State remains closed and abandoned while the Hospital in Unity State is functional.

Tarik Jasarevic
Media Relations
World Health Organization
Mobile: +41 793 676 214
Tel: +41 22 791 5099