Parents are being urged to take their children for a free malaria prevention treatment program this week in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
The program, initiated by Medicine San Frontier-MSF in collaboration with the state Ministry of Health, is meant to protect children under five from malaria disease during the rainy season.
According to MSF, each year across South Sudan, the rainy season brings massive spikes in malaria cases between July and November, with children under five years of age the most affected. It states years of conflict and insecurity have kept health care out of reach for many people across the country. This, combined, with inconsistent malaria prevention activities, it said, has made malaria the cause of more than one-third of all deaths in South Sudan.
The Director of Malaria Preventive Program in the Northern Bahr el Ghazal state disclosed the free treatment for children will continue for more than four months.
“I want the public to cooperate… because this program is supporting their children to prevent them from malaria. The kids will take those drugs regular within three days of every month,” Adim Wieu said.
Community members welcomed the timely intervention. They say there is rampant cases of malaria and pneumonia among infants and other children during the rainy season.
“Last year, we came through the same program and it was useful to our children because it help prevent malaria. This year, we are happy that the ministry has brought it again,” said one of the parents.
Another mother confirmed to Akol Yam radio that; “our children got the drugs and we want to urge the ministry to continue helping us so that our children can be free from malaria.”
The seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) is to prevent infection and serious illness among those most at risk—children from 3 to 59 months—by providing them with preventive antimalarial medications once a month for five months during the rainy season.
The campaign by MSF and the state Ministry of Health aims to target up to 25,109 children below the age of five, in five monthly rounds in Aweil town in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. Health teams will also conduct malnutrition screening and malaria testing and treatment.
MSF currently works in a total of 13 projects across South Sudan. MSF treated 22,400 people for malaria in South Sudan in the first three months of 2021.