IOM and WFP officials in Wau IDP camps [File photo]
JUBA, 04 November 2016 [Gurtong]-In June 2015, IOM conducted a site-wide oral cholera vaccination (OCV) campaign, completing two rounds of the OCV for 71,200 people, the approximate population of the Bentiu PoC site at the time.
“Immediately treating and halting the spread of cholera is critical in this site, where more than 101,500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in very close quarters,” said IOM Health Officer Dr. Andrew Mbala.
IOM says, while the vaccination appears to be reducing the spread of the disease, more than 30,000 new arrivals have come to the site since the campaign was conducted. Only 4 percent of IDPs currently in treatment for cholera received the vaccine in 2015.
At its two primary health care clinics in the site, IOM is managing oral rehydration points (ORPs) to treat patients presenting cholera symptoms, referring severe cases to the Médecins Sans Frontières clinic for in-patient care. World Relief and the International Rescue Committee are operating additional ORPs at their clinics in the site.
The World Health Organization is providing technical support and supplying rapid diagnostics tests and diarrhoea treatment kits to health partners, and UNICEF is providing cholera treatment kits to support the response.
Simultaneously, health and hygiene promotion (HHP) teams are scaling up messaging campaigns.
“Encouraging safe hygiene habits is the frontline defence for preventing cholera. Frequent messaging helps change behaviours at the individual and household levels,” explained John Muchiri, IOM Bentiu Hygiene Promotion Coordinator.
Every day, mobile HHP teams canvas the site, raising awareness through megaphones, house-to-house sessions and visits to households of suspected cholera patients to provide tips to care-givers and assess habits that may be encouraging the spread of the disease.
HHP teams focus much of their messaging on children, noting that the simple act of washing hands can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea rates among children less than five years by almost 50 percent.
Community mobilizers visit morning assemblies at primary schools to teach cholera prevention techniques to students. IOM has also formed Hand washing Championship leagues, which bring students together from across the PoC site to demonstrate their hand washing skills.
IOM is constructing additional latrines and trucking water to hand-washing points across the site, including at gates to the base, clinics and humanitarian offices. The water points are managed by Concern Worldwide, Mercy Corps and IOM.