World Malaria Day: Addressing Malaria in Southern Sudan

World Malaria Day: Addressing Malaria in Southern Sudan

Children in Southern Sudan

Malaria is preventable and curable, yet every year it kills more than a million people throughout the world and tens of thousands in Southern Sudan alone.  Malaria infection remains the highest cause of morbidity and mortality in Southern Sudan. Every year, thousands in Southern Sudan die unnecessarily due to lack of access to appropriate prevention and treatment. In the wake of nearly 50 years of civil war, the country is hastening towards independence and a future with unlimited potential. Yet, every death brought about by malaria steals another life from contributing to the nation’s future.

The US Agency for International Aid (USAID)-funded, Management Sciences for Health (MSH)-led Sudan Health Transformation Project, Phase 2 (SHTP II) is working to combat this scourge. Through 165 health facilities in 14 counties and 10 states, SHTP II is providing vital services to prevent and treat malaria. 

SHTP II provides Intermittent Preventative Therapy (IPT) drugs for pregnant women to prevent infection, artemisinin-based therapy treatment to those with malaria, and education on methods to prevent contracting the disease.  In 2010, SHTP II shipped 120,000 bed nets to facilities across Southern Sudan.  In the past three months alone in Aweil South county, malaria consultations accounted for 36% of all visits to SHTP II health facilities. 

While malaria kills thousands of adults each year, children, who have little immunity and are more vulnerable due to age and other co-infections, are most at risk of dying from malarial infection. This is especially true for the thousands of southern Sudanese families returning to their ancestral lands from low-malaria endemic countries where they sought refuge during the conflict. 

Seeking immediate treatment for those affected is vital in saving the life of a child, however, the great distances of many health facilities often delays treatment. SHTP II is working with thousands of Community Based Distributors (CBDs) across the country are to address the difficulties that distances of health facilities often pose to patients.  By providing antimalarial drugs for children to a CBD in the community, many are saved from having to walk for hours, if not days, to reach facilities for treatment of malaria – precious time which can mean the difference between life and death.

By working multilaterally with government, donors, and other NGOs, SHTP II is working hard to stop this disease from stealing the potential of Southern Sudan’s future.

Read more about MSH's work on communicable diseases.

Erin Polich is a communications intern with the SHTP II project and is working in Southern Sudan. Erin is currently a student at Boston University’s School of Public Health.