Machar vaccinated against COVID-19

South Sudan First Vice President vaccinated against COVID-19 on Wednesday, 7 April 2021.

Dr. Riek Machar takes the AstraZeneca vaccine’s first jab after Health Minister Elizebath Achuei was vaccinated at Juba Teaching Hospital on Tuesday.

He [Machar] became the first top government official of South Sudan from the Presidency to receive his jab.

Martin Gama Abucha, Executive of First Vice President’s office, said among the people vaccinated include Minister of Electricity and Dams, Hon. Peter Marcello, as well as several senior staff in the office of the First Vice President.

Dr. Machar also called the public to continue to observe preventive measures, including wearing the face mask and social distancing.

South Sudanese health workers have received a COVID-19 vaccinate rollout at Juba teaching hospital this week. The ministry of health launched the first coronavirus vaccine in partnership with World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization stated on Wednesday said it had formed an advisory committee on vaccine safety.

It stated the COVID-19 subcommittee had reviewed reports of rare cases of blood clots with low platelets following vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (including Covishield) since their onset a few weeks ago.

The W.H.O vowed to monitor the rollout of all COVID-19 vaccines carefully and will continue to work closely with countries to manage potential risks and use science and data to drive response and recommendations.

Female inmates receive food and hygiene kits in Aweil

Around thirty female inmates at Aweil Main Prison have received a donation of food items and hygiene kits on Wednesday.

The Ghanaian peacekeepers at United Nations Mission in South Sudan donated the items on Wednesday.

Some of the hygiene items donated were face masks, handwashing facilities, Sanitary pads, Tissue papers, washing, and bathing soaps. They also food items included Packed Juices, Biscuits, and beans.

The donations reportedly aimed at helping the vulnerable and abandoned female prisoners on the International World Health Day, which is marked every 7th of April yearly.

Some of the female inmates who spoke to Akol Yam FM said that the donations would maintain proper hygiene and sanitation in police custody. They appreciated the support and called well-wishers for more help.

The first female inmate who requested anonymity expressed her happiness. “We are delighted today, at least we feel like the rest of the people living because we have been visited with donations, many family and friends have forgotten us, so we want to thank these foreigners that have cared for us”.

Another inmate Achol Marach said they have been in total lack of hygiene items in prison.

Derek Odame is the Civil-Military Company officer for the Ghanaians peacekeepers in Aweil, urged the public to avoid abandoning their relatives detained at the prisons.

“We know that many prisoners are abandoned globally, so we thought of the female inmates first as women are vulnerable. Despite being detained, we can imagine their situation. Our sisters decided to see them and support them with the little they have; It’s the world health day that is why we made hygiene kits available and many others.”

Aweil central prison in NBG state was built to accommodate only 150 inmates, but the number increase to over five hundred prisoners

Nearly 30 Health workers in Aweil abandoned work over unpaid wages

At least twenty-nine health workers at Light House COVID-19 Isolation Center in Northern Barh Ghazal have abandoned their works over demands of three months unpaid wages.

Staffs were reported threatening the authority over unpaid salaries two weeks ago to quit the work, but no health ministry implementation.

Slow response from the authority provoked health workers who declined to continue providing medical care for COVID-19 patients until the administration meet their demands.

Health worker Akok Piol says they refused work without pay because their families needed financial support.

“We were given three months contract from December to February, but up to now, we haven’t been paid. WHO says the ministry has not approved the payment, and they can’t pay us without authority approval? So, we have decided to abandon the work because we are not considered.” Akok stressed.

Another Health worker Paul Garang said they had tried many alternatives to get our incentives paid, but nothing has been done. And resort to halt the work, leave the COVID-19 patients alone at the Isolation Center.”

Registered nurse Mary Biem felt scared for the pandemic increase. Saying, staffs are afraid because they were unable to buy soaps to protect themselves from COVID-19 patients.”

Workers further accused the Undersecretary in the National Ministry of Health of not approving their World Health Organization payment.

In December, Light House Isolation Center management reported that World Health Organization had shifted-in to pay 29 health workers incentives for three months.

One of the top officials at the NBGs COVID-19 Taskforce acknowledged the worker’s strike but declined to comment.

Akol Yam calls Undersecretary in the National Ministry of Health but could not be reaching.

Earlier this month, the Taskforce extended nationwide partial lockdown for an additional month to curb the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown became effective on 3rd March until April 2021.

Egypt donated medical supplies to South Sudan

The government of Egypt has donated medical supplies to South Sudan. Egyptian Agency medical donation is part of humanitarian intervention to support vulnerable people who need aid assistance.

South Sudan Vice president Rebecca Garang received the medicine. Ambassador Dr.  Mohamed Kaddah, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Juba, delivered the first batch of medical donations on Wednesday.

Diplomat said delivery medicines aimed to alleviate the humanitarian’s suffering in the displaced people’s South Sudan centers.

The Egyptian ambassador to South Sudan said Egypt is standing by South Sudan in light of the humanitarian crisis. He enlightened that the Egyptian Agency’s rapid response on developmental associate was the formal appeal for assistance from South Sudan’s government.

Ambassador of Egypt appreciated vice president Rebecca Garang’s “tireless efforts to face the repercussions of the humanitarian crisis and her supervision of the distribution of the Egyptian aid to the affected people.”

In the statement extended to the radio community, Rebecca Garang was quoted voicing her gratitude for the Egyptian government’s speedy response to her country’s affected vulnerable people.

Mrs. Garang says, “Egypt is always on the frontline among the first countries to respond to their needs, and such positions reflect the strength eternal brotherly relations between the two countries.”

The embassy promised that the second batch of aid assistants is anticipated to arrive soon in South Sudan. They did not specify when the second batch shall arrive.

Egyptian says anticipated food supplies will reflect the spirit of solidarity between the two brotherly countries in the current humanitarian crisis, of which about 8 million South Sudanese citizens are affected.

Three hundred MSF staff strike over NSIF tax cut in Abyei.

More than three hundred Medicine San Frontiers’ staff in Abyei went on strike on Wednesday on the national social insurance tax cut.

An antagonistic strike occurred after staff received a document from the national labor office stipulating that they are to receive their salary indicating “TAX-FREE.”

According to the demonstrators, the National Revenue Authority, NRA, has implemented the policy taxing the national Social Insurance Fund (NSIF) after the staff contract ended with the organization.

The national staff viewed the new taxation policy as a day raiding strategy.

Daniel Reec Ador, head of protestors, said staffs would not go back to work till government, MSF office and teams on strike sit and find an amicable solution to the matter.”

Ador said their strike did not abandon people; the group has assigned some health personals to carryout medication in the hospital.

“We need to be convincing on the article that says that NSIF is subject to taxation. If we are shown the article, find, we don’t have any problem. We will receive this money and go back to work, but the labor office in Abyei should come and see what we can do and go back to work. This is after the government will tell us that it will follow the case.”

The field coordinator for Medicine San Frontiers, MSF, Mr. Ken Hagiwara declined to comment on the issue, which he said in the following interview.

“I cannot make any comment. Sorry sir, very sorry. I just am working on something, and I cannot comment on this. I cannot give you something, you know, some really, like unreliable information. I mean.”

The legal consultant and commissioner for Oath, Johnny Saverio Ayiik, says 58 of South Sudan Constitution National Revenue Authority can tax the payout National Social Insurance Fund. The reason is that NSIF is only taxed during the payout.

“That amount of eight percent which is deducted from each employee is not subjected to tax at the payment of the monthly salary because it is not yet an income into your pocket. So when you get it, and it comes to your pocket, this time now becomes income. Any income you received, that income is subjected to tax, and the government authority which is concerned and custodian of the implementation of the tax act is the national revenue authority.”

Saverio urges the protestors to avoid protesting against the employer but meet the National Revenue Authority as the concerned authority.

Yirol hospital shut down after health workers contracted COVID-19

Authorities Yirol West county in Lakes said they have closed county main hospital after 7 health workers contracted the virus on Monday.

Health workers were confirmed virus-positive during public, voluntary testing. The Yirol Hospital has indefinitely suspended its operation with immediate effects.

Medic said COVID-19 patients have been advised to stay at homes as the government works closely with partners to establish isolation centers.

Dr. Marial Chuir said 23 people were identified direct contacts with patients are traced, and their samples have been taken for lab analysis.

He explained the seven cases were detected within the sample of twenty-seven people who turn up for voluntarily testing on Friday last week.

According to Dr. Marial emergency department in the hospital is permitted to provide medical services in seven days.

“We want those without cases to maintain protected themselves not to be infected by the disease. We want everyone to observe preventive measures by keeping social distancing. The public gathering needs to be avoided and minimize hand shaking as now in Greater Lakes. We have listed several cases that make us reach over twenty-five confirm cases of coronavirus, which is the first time in Yirol to record cases.’’ Said Maria.

Medical doctors appealed to the citizens to follow health guidelines and avoid public gatherings to prevent contracting coronavirus.

South Sudan has recorded three thousand eight hundred and eighty-two cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year. The Government taskforce lifted the restriction on coronavirus despite the rising number of instances daily.

Animal disease outbreak killed livestock in Awerial. 

The cattle keepers in Lakes state’s Awerial County has expressed concern about losing their livestock following the outbreak of an animal disease known as East Coast Fever.

Deng Think is a cattle keeper in the area said has lost 15 cows and several animals from other community members dead of disease confirmed to be East Coast Fever at various villages, including Mingkaman. 

East Coast Fever is a lethal disease of cattle caused by the blood parasite and transmitted by the Brown Ear Tick.

He stated that cattle started showing signs of sickness in December, and the treatment they have administered to save the life of animals did not work better.

According to the cattle owner, the disease’s symptom includes cow to develop a high fever, nose mucus, loss of appetite.

Deng claimed to have lost a cow worth 400,000 SSP, and he appeals to veterinarians and partners to provide a sustainable drug that can treat the disease. It’s unclear how many cattle dead so far.

 ” I don’t really know what can help. We have been trying to treat them with the available drugs for animals, but it’s not working. We don’t understand why doctors are not bringing drugs for this disease.” Deng stated.

Director of the Animal department in Awerial County, James Chuti, has confirmed that fifteen cows have died so far and expects the number to go higher.

He urges pastoralists to keep animals free of ticks to minimize disease transmission through blood parasites as local authorities prepare their response.

“We have got the information about this disease and my office has received at least 15 cows death recorded but I did not yet get some data from many villages which host larger number of cows. so far, we are planning to see alternative ways to save the livestock life because the entire,e communities depend on cattle and if disease wipe them out, it can be a disaster to them” He said.

The veterinary expert said the vaccination campaign launched in November last year didn’t covered all areas due to the vaccine shortage.

James assured cattle owners that his office coordinates with the State head office to provide medicine that cures East Coast Fever.

 

80 people regain eye sight and 900 more missed the operation

80 people have regained sight after undergoing cataract operation in Akon, Warrap and  nine hundred more  missed the treatment.

James Madhang Wieu is the Payam Executive Director in Akon. He says eye specialists’ doctors from Egypt spent two days in the area and they manage to operate few people and majority of them missed because of limited time for the doctors.

Wieu said that they registered one thousand and thirty-six patients with eye problem that need to be operation.

The symptoms of eye cataract include shortsightedness to the older people, changes of eye color and poor sighted at night.

Cataract is ‘a medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision’.

The governor of Warrap state, Hon. Bona Panek apologized to those who missed the eye operation. Saying that things did not go as planned but promised to try to bring them next year.

He attributed the issue to poor coordination of which transports arrangements for many patients did not reached them on time.

Some of the patients who spoke to Mayardit FM said the transport arrangement was not well coordinated and many of them were stranded at various pick up locations.

The eye operation was one of the initiative sponsored by the first lady Ayen Kiir Mayardit to provide free eye treatment to nearly thousand people from greater Bahr el Ghazal region and Abyei. Seven hundred patients were treated in Akon Payam in Warrap state.

South Sudan imposed money for travelers to obtain COVID-19 Certificate

Hundreds of travelers criticized the South Sudan government for commercialized the COVID-19 certificate. South Sudanese nationals are told to pay 75 US dollars and foreign National charges 150 USD to obtain the certificates in two days.

Passengers said the new charging fee was introduced on Friday [December 4th] without the government’s advance notification.

Hundreds of travelers have stranded at the Dr. John Garang Infectious Diseases center this morning protested the move would make many people missed their flight.

The health doctors in the center shifted their operation to Cardinal Hospital adjusted to the main center.

Passengers looking for a COVID-19 certificate described the ministry of health decision as a “shocking change” that undermines the public interest. COVID-19 certificate was often issued by the ministry of health in partnership with the World Health Organization.

The government has started issuing free COVID-19 certificates to the public, including ordinary citizens and foreign nationals in the country, since the pandemic emerged in April 2020.

The policy has seen a challenging business that will affect the general public as the country facing economic hardship. People uttered severe disappointment to the government for making such changes so abrupt without advance communication.

Passenger Emmanuel John, who has been looking COVID-19 certificate for three days, was annoyed by the new government’s policy.

“You people do not take care of the citizens, and some people die from just Malaria, now by imposing this fee of 75 USD, do you think it is fair? I have been coming here for almost three weeks now. I cannot even succeed,”.

A foreign business lady who refused to be named said she has disagreed with the government COVID-19 charging fees because the payments presented are unaffordable cash beyond citizens’ daily income.

Mr. Bol Michael said the government decision left him without an option for his wife and daughter traveling to Kenya to get certificates. “I paid $150 for the certificates because I don’t want to double the lost for the tickets,” He said the health ministry decision was unacceptable because people could not afford the money.

“It is not good to surprisingly asks the public to pay money for something they didn’t expect. Yesterday, I registered my wife and my daughter. I brought them this morning for sample collection, but people were told to pay money in another center which was a shocked news. I paid $150 to get two certificates because I don’t want my family to miss their flight,” Bol said.

He further explained passengers were being informed that the new policy comes from COVID-19 national Task Forces. And this is an unfair decision because the people have no money to pay. Bol has spent one week looking for a certificate beyond the standard mandated days.

The Director of Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Dr. Richard Lako, said the Ministry of Health had contracted the private sector to test the travelers looking for COVID-19 certificates.

He claimed MECH Blue private clinic was tasked to run samples for travelers without the Ministry of Health’s influence.

Richard stated that the COVID-19 national Task Force made the decision.

“Travelers, we don’t test them. We have positive people; we need to follow them. We have contacts for these people we need to follow them, we have alerted the center affairs, we have been collecting the sample from the center affairs in the hospital those have been suspected of having COVID we tested them”.

In November, travelers slammed the government for the slow process of issuing pandemic approval certificates.

Minister of Health Toured Aweil to Access the COVID-19 situation.

The national minister of health arrived in Aweil for a two-day visit to assess the health condition and  COVID-19 center.

She was received by the Governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal  Hon. Tong Akeen Ngor with her delegation on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with Akol Yam FM, Minister Elizabeth Achuei Yol said her mission is to assess health facilities and listen to medical workers’ conditions.

Aweil has one COVID-19 center known as Light House. It was established as an isolation center to keep coronavirus patients.

Achuei said  that the data she will collect would be used to improve health conditions.

“I came here to assess what I will manage to support the local communities in terms of health. I have already seen that there are few health officials. There is a lack of drugs. I want to add that women don’t lie if I accept to work on one thing, then I will ensure. If I see that there is nothing of my capacity, then I will not promise. Minister Achuei said.

She said that she alone can’t do anything without support from the top leadership to improved health situation in the country.

I am a minister, I have my bosses, and if they are not willing to support the plan, then it cannot happen,” said Achuei.

 Adding that this is  why many top officials may be seen as liars when they make promises which they don’t keep.

She also said that her ministry proposed wages increase for the health workers in the upcoming budget submitted to the cabinets for approval.

Some health officials in NBG state expressed concern about the shortage of medical workers at their facilities.

John Agany Deng is the director at the state ministry of health.

He said that they have challenges ranging from  low payment and irregular drugs supplies to health facilities in the state.

He also said they do not have mean of transport to  visited remotes health facilities in the state.

Adding that even the frontline health workers haven’t been paid any incentives in the fight against coronavirus.

Agany said that he hope that the minister of health will address some of their concerns which she has seen  here.

Other health workers spoke about prioritizing service delivery to the people.

Northern Bahr el Ghazal recorded 11 positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic begins and all are discharged.