World Health Day and Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update


Today is World Health Day. This year, the World Health Organisation declared it the 'Year of the Nurse and Midwife'. Mark Simmons, CEO of Friends of Ibba Girls' School, provides a Covid-19 update and shares a special thank you to the school's nurse, Regina. She played a vital role in ensuring girls were provided with extra hygiene and sanitation lessons before they were sent home from school. This knowledge is now being passed on by the girls to their families and households.

We hope you are staying safe and well as we all adjust to this new way of life. It's World Health Day today, so a good opportunity to update you on the current situation in South Sudan.

On Sunday, South Sudan confirmed its first case of Covid-19. We understand that the patient, who had been displaying mild symptoms, is a Dutch national who arrived in the country in late February to work for a UN agency in Juba.

The South Sudanese government has set up a task force to deal with the crisis, and advisory committees include those chaired by Juba University’s Dean of Medicine and its Vice-Chancellor Dr John Akec, who is a friend of Ibba Girls’ School. We of course wish them well in their deliberations and planning.

The impact of any disaster is magnified by the vulnerability of those affected. This includes those who live in refugee camps, slums and other cramped and unsanitary conditions, those with limited access to clean water, those who cannot find or afford soap, those who have not had the opportunity to learn about hand-washing or how diseases are spread. It includes the malnourished, which over half of under-5s in South Sudan are. Indeed, the World Health Organisation says that “malnutrition has been linked to a substantial increase in the risk of mortality and morbidity and that women and young children bear the brunt of this”. And it includes of course those in our own communities around the world whose vulnerability is increased in different ways, including those who are lonely and fearful, and front-line workers.

We are grateful that one of the many impacts of your support for the school is that it has internet access, which enabled the staff to stay up-to-date and prepared as news of the new virus spread. Part of this preparation was to provide extra hygiene and sanitation lessons for the children and information for their families before they were sent home from school. Our thanks go to the school's on-site nurse, Regina [pictured above], for her key role in that training. These families will be safer, as the girls put what they have learned into practice and teach the others in their households.

We continue to keep in touch with head teacher Vicky and the school staff team, and all are reported to be well. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us using [email protected].

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