, 05 October, 2019 / 2:36 AM
As the government of South Sudan works toward the realization of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity with the opposition slated to take place next month amid challenges such as a struggling economy, massive humanitarian crisis, and diseases, the partnership between the Juba-based government and Egypt to combat Hepatitis is seen as good news, a Juba-based Catholic doctor has observed.
"The Ministry of Health has thought wise to come to an agreement with Egypt to help the people of South Sudan from Hepatitis,” Health Coordinator for Juba-based Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Dr. Thomas Tongun Leone told ACI Africa Friday.
"Usually the vaccines here are very expensive in clinics where they are in small quantities and people cannot even afford them,” Dr. Leone explained the challenge some South Sudanese have been facing to access treatment abroad and appreciated the latest partnership between South Sudan and Egypt to administer vaccinations against Hepatitis C in the world’s newest nation.
According to a recent health report, Hepatitis C, described as a viral infection that causes the liver to swell “is highly prevalent in South Sudan.”
Dr. Leone told ACI Africa that the vaccine is on high demand in South Sudan
“When I was visiting the dioceses, people were asking for the vaccine so that they can have it in their facility,” he recalled.
“If the government has at least some possibility, let this vaccination reach other towns so that it can help the people who cannot be able to come to Juba here,” Dr. Leone appealed and added, “If there is any possibility, medical personnel from here (Juba) should at least go to the other towns and not only concentrate in the big town.”
While addressing journalists Wednesday, October 2, South Sudan’s minister for health, Dr. Riek Gai Kok announced the partnership between his country and Egypt saying, "This is going to be a joint effort between the two countries to protect our people, and Egypt is coming in to help South Sudan eliminate hepatitis C and also tackle B."
The Health Minister has been quoted as saying that hepatitis prevalence in South Sudan is estimated to be 9.7 percent, and that "Hepatitis is killing more people than TB and HIV.”
“We are receiving reports from the army and police that the number of new recruits testing positive for Hepatitis is very high, and this is a concern to us," the Minister has been quoted as saying.
Various media have reported that Egypt disclosed commitment in June that it would be providing hepatitis C testing and treatment for 1 million people in 14 African countries, including South Sudan.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa