The World Bank has released USD 7.6 million to help South Sudan respond to COVID-19. The country’s first case was reported on 5 April 2020, but the preparations started several weeks ago in anticipation of the disease to spread to South Sudan given the scale of the pandemic.
Through the UNICEF and World Bank partnership, risk communication efforts will be further scaled up, ensuring the population is aware of the disease, signs and symptoms and how best to prevent transmission. The World Bank funds will also be spent on training of health personnel on effective infection prevention and control and equip them with the necessary personal protection equipment and handwashing facilities; on improving health screening at points of entry, as well as on psychosocial support services for children.
“The health system in South Sudan is extremely fragile and when we see how robust health systems around the world are struggling fighting COVID-19, that makes us worry more for the people of South Sudan,” said the UNICEF South Sudan representative Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “We must do whatever we can to prevent and reduce the spread of the disease, and without the partnership with the World Bank this wouldn’t be possible.”
The activities carried out in partnership with the World Bank, are all part of the endorsed national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and will be implemented through joint UN efforts, with the UN agencies complementing each other in the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan pillars.
“The COVID-19 outbreak is anticipated to overburden South Sudan’s weak public health preparedness and response systems and may have a socio-economic impact on South Sudan in terms of increasing food insecurity and deepening poverty and vulnerabilities,” said Husam Abudagga, World Bank Country Manager for South Sudan. “The Contingent Emergency Response Implementation Plan (CERIP) will provide emergency funds to help South Sudan to meet critical resource needs as outlined in the COVID-19 national preparedness and response plan.”
For years, the World Bank has been a great health partner for South Sudan and UNICEF to rebuild and strengthen the health care system so that the most vulnerable are reached.