South Sudan strengthens port health services to ensure compliance with the international standards

Juba In an effort to strengthen port health services, South Sudan has set up thermal scanner at Juba International Airport to enhance capacities of detecting potential public health emergencies of international concern in compliance to the regional and international health standards.

Under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), Member States are required to establish and maintain emergency response capacities at designated airports and ground crossings to preserve public health security.

The world is currently experiencing an increased risk of emerging diseases like Ebolavirus, yellow fever, cholera, seasonal and pandemic influenza, and other diseases with a threat to international public health security due to cross-border diseases spread, said Hon. Dr Reik Gai Kok, South Sudan’s Health Minister.

“Following the declaration of the novel coronavirus 2019 (n-CoV) as Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization, the installation of the thermal scanner at the arrival gate of Juba International Airport will strengthen the screening capacity to identify ill travelers for investigation, isolation and treatment”, said Dr Kok.

Plans are underway to install thermoscanners at Nimule and Wau points of entry and other designated points of entry to mitigate the risk of importing infectious hazards posed by cross-border travel, trade and public health security.

Following the Ebola outbreak that was declared in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan heightens its preparedness and operational readiness to serious cross-border health threats caused by the outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD).

Since August 2018, the country is monitoring of people arriving by air and ground crossing in 29 points of entry. The installation of a thermal scanner at Juba International Airport has improved capacities to detect diseases like Ebola, Marburg, Yellow Fever, the novel coronavirus and other emerging diseases in travelers coming to South Sudan.

In 2018, a yellow fever case was identified by health workers at Sakure border post in the former Western Equatoria state. The case was contained, and a yellow fever campaign was later on implemented to protect the local communities, said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan. This event demonstrates the value of investing in port health to safeguard public health.

Acknowledging the importance of the continued support of the Government of Japan, Dr Olu said This contribution is another tangible demonstration of Japan’s commitment to ensure that routine core capacity requirements are established at points of entry to safeguard public health emergency.

He also highlighted WHO’s commitment to strengthen national core capacities to effectively implement the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005).

The inauguration was officiated by Honorable Dr Riek Gai Kok, Minister of Health, Republic of South Sudan, his Excellency Hua Ning, the Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan, Mr Mitsuhiro Toyama, charge d’affaires, Embassy of Japan and Dr Olushayo Olu, the WHO South Sudan Representative, representatives from International Organization for Migration and the media among others.

Note to Editors

South Sudan became a member state to WHO in 2012 and in 2013 committed to implementing the IHR (2005). As part of the 2017 Joint External Evaluation (JEE) for South Sudan, Juba International Airport (JIA) and Nimule ground crossing were assessed for designation as points of entry for IHR (2005) implementation. The JEE recommended that IHR capacities are established for JIA and other designated points of entry. While Juba International Airport is currently conducting screening for Ebola virus disease since August 2018.

Source: World Health Organization