'No funds to fight Ebola' E. Equatoria health officials say

November 4, 2022

Health officials in South Sudan's Eastern Equatoria State, which shares a common border with Uganda, the epicenter of the recent Ebola outbreak, say lack of funds has hindered their work.

Early last month, the South Sudan cabinet approved an additional 30 million US dollars for setting up mechanisms to keep the Ebola virus at bay. Earlier they approved a 500,000 US dollar emergency fund for the same.

However, Eastern Equatoria's minister of health Pasqual Lodae said the state government is committed to fighting the deadly virus but that they had not received any funds from the national government to establish screening and isolation centers along the borders.

'We have budgetary challenges because the budget proposed for the isolation centers and for running these activities has not yet been approved. The challenges of the borders whereby people are entering from all these other borders like Tseretenya, other borders in Magwi County, places in Budi, and other parts of New Site is not 100% that we can get these people screened. But this is an effort we prioritize to start screening in all these places by trying to disperse our teams not to concentrate only in Nimule but also look at these major borders,' he explained.

Dr. Etin Concord, the director general of the state health ministry while speaking to Radio Tamazuj admitted that logistics remain a major challenge impeding efforts against Ebola.

“There is a team sent from Juba straight away to Nimule to look into the Ebola case. As the state, we are also planning to send our team to Nimule but we have challenges with logistics. We look at Nimule as not the only border that Ebola can enter in South Sudan, it may enter through other borders like Poge, Owinyikibul, Tsertenya,' he said.

Dr. Concord urged both national and state health partners to support the establishment of screening centers along the border.

'I am currently in Juba to meet the incident manager to give us some logistical support for us to go and establish these centers in Tsertenya, Pogee Owinyikibul we wanted to establish centers there for assessment,” he added.

Gama Emmanuel, the county health director for Magwi County emphasized that screening all travelers is difficult due to long borders.

“The challenge is we are not screening all those who are entering the country, some of them are South Sudanese who are returning, and a majority don’t come for screening. So we have law enforcement agencies at the border. It is quite difficult to screen 100% of the people traveling and entering the country except at the riverside where controlling is easy,' he revealed. 'The bodaboda riders do not obey the rules and regulations of the border.'

Two Ebola suspects have been isolated at the Nimule Hospital after they were referred from Pageri and within Nmule town.

Up to now, South Sudan is yet to record a positive Ebola case.


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