For the first time, South Sudan with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has successfully conducted its first ever laboratory test for Ebola from a suspected case in Rumbek as part of emergency preparedness, WHO has reported.
According to WHO, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in Rumbek on 12 of this month alerted them that one of its staff who had recently returned from DRC could be suffering from Ebola.
Both WHO and ministry of health dispatched a rapid response team which took blood samples from the patient for investigation at the National Public Health Laboratory in Juba using the GeneXpert technology with results emerging 6 hours later.
The samples have now been sent to the Uganda Virus Research Institute for differential diagnosis.
Earlier this year 20 ministry of health staff from the National and State levels underwent an intensive training on laboratory biosafety and Ebola preparedness, including the use of GeneXpert to safely test for the Zaire strain of Ebola at the National Public Health Laboratory.
WHO Representative in South Sudan, Dr. Olushayo Olu said the testing of suspected Ebola cases with support of optimal laboratory capacities at national level is a critical component of national readiness capacities for Ebola response.
He commended South Sudan’s efforts and acknowledged support from donors who have strengthened the laboratory system in South Sudan while pledging continued support to establish additional capacity to diagnose other strains in the country.
Although South Sudan has not reported a confirmed case of Ebola, the South Sudan ministry of health has been on very high alert since the August Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, recently the WHO risk assessment raised the alarm from high to very high in DRC’s neighbouring countries including South Sudan.