Providing Malaria Treatment for Displaced Families in South Sudan

  • Zeinab recalls the treatment she recevied for malaria. Photo: IOM / Ashley McLaughlin

High fever, nausea, alternating chills and sweats – these are just a few of the symptoms of malaria, which is deadly for thousands of South Sudanese each year without access to simple lifesaving treatment.

In displacement sites, such as the Wau protection of civilians (PoC) site in Western Bahr el Ghazal, living conditions can be extremely difficult, with shelters crowded near drainage and sanitation facilities, which can be breeding grounds for malaria-transmitting mosquitos.

When Zeinab, a mother of four, suddenly came down with feverish and achy symptoms, she knew these were signs of malaria and quickly visited IOM’s primary health care clinic in the site.

Since the crisis broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, IOM has worked to help ensure that thousands of displaced and conflict-affected people across the country have access to primary health care.

At the Wau PoC site, IOM’s primary health care clinic – funded by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Government of Japan and the Common Humanitarian Fund – sees hundreds of patients a week seeking treatment for common illnesses, including malaria.

“The nurses gave me medicine to cure the malaria and pain medications to manage the fever and aches,” Zeinab says. “Within one week of treatment, I felt better and a malaria test at the clinic was now negative.”

Abruptly displaced by fighting in Wau in late June 2016, Zeinab found herself living in difficult conditions without access to health facilities, which were suddenly difficult to access or under staffed as many health workers also fled the fighting.

Before June, Wau had remained relatively calm compared to other parts of the country that have been engulfed in a civil conflict since late 2013. The PoC site was nothing more than an empty piece of land, used by farmers to grow groundnuts, next to the local UN peacekeeping base.

Within weeks of the outbreak of fighting, the site became the temporary home to over 18,000 people, and more than 42,000 who continue to seek protection at the site today.