JUBA, South Sudan

South Sudan and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched a national action plan for 2020-24 aiming at strengthening the country’s health care system to respond to disease outbreaks.  

Dr. Olushayo Olu, WHO Country Representative to South Sudan, said Thursday that building a strong health care system will enable the government to respond comprehensively to disease outbreaks.

“It is an opportunity for us to strengthen our system. Over time, we have responded to different [disease] outbreaks. It now gives us the opportunity to build a system that can comprehensively respond to outbreaks — not only COVID-19, but several other outbreaks,” said Olu during the launch of the action plan for health security in Juba.

The National Action Plan for Health Security is expected to cost around US$70 million over the five-year period of its implementation.

“Most of the time, we focus on humanitarian work. It is important to save lives. But importantly as well, we need to move from there and start to put in place, develop activities and develop intervention that will help this country to really move on,” said Olu.

Mayen Machut Achiek, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, said they need more support in order to respond to major disease outbreaks across the country.

“We are wishing to get support to establish a strong health system. What we are embarking on today is risk management to prepare for infectious diseases that are imported across the borders,” said Achiek.

He added that mobilizing funding to support health care activities is very important.

Martin Elia Lomuro, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, said the government is keen on improving the poor health infrastructure, human resources and level of preparedness to help respond to disease outbreaks.

“Health security is a holistic approach. This is where we would like to stand with you. We want to encourage young people by leading this plan and by making sure we raise funds. We have taken our health seriously. COVID-19 has taught us lessons,” said Lomuro.

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