Nimule— Shortly after Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, Alira William— the Head Chief of Nimule Payam, witnessed it all. Borders were closed, business disrupted, and some people in his community got infected with the coronavirus disease.
This endangered the border town lying in the southern part of South Sudan in Magwi County; Eastern Equatoria State — the main gateway into South Sudan for regional trade.
To mitigate the health and socioeconomic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic in the IGAD sub-region, IOM implemented the European Union (EU)-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme in South Sudan.
The project aimed to increase access to health and socio-economic support for vulnerable groups, through screening of travelers for Covid-19 and ensuring referral of suspected cases to the Rapid Response team; training of healthcare workers to provide screening of persons accessing the health care facility, and referral of suspect cases to the Rapid Response teams, and training of frontline Point of Entry officials on COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures.
The project also integrated Gender Based Violence (GBV) and gender-responsive actions in the COVID-19 response, and its beneficiaries were sensitized through awareness-raising activities and community engagement.
Water and Hygiene (WASH) services such as handwashing facilities were also constructed at Nimule Point of Entry, Juba and Wau International Airports.
“The importance of this intervention is significant because Nimule is the only Point of Entry where such screening for covid-19 is happening,” says chief Alira William. “Diseases know no borders, that’s why there is a need to continue screening at the border points.”
Since January 2021, every traveler entering South Sudan through the Nimule Point of Entry was screened for Covid-19-related signs and symptoms. As of June 2022, more than 275,000 travelers were screened, and those with signs and symptoms were referred to Nimule Hospital for further tests.
“This intervention has raised the capacity and continuity of essential health services,” said Dr. Auma Mary, IOM’s Migration Health Coordinator.
For Brig. Gen. Muorwel Majok Anyar, the Director of Immigration at Nimule Border, IOM’s intervention provided the border communities with knowledge about the prevention of Covid-19 and other communicable diseases.
“We are happy, and we shall make proper use of the knowledge that the volunteers have gained,” says. Brig. Gen. Muorwel.
The Magwi County Health Officer, Gama Emmanuel acknowledged project has raised the capacity of local people in Nimule. Although the experts are going, we now have local experts on the ground, thanks to the project.”
“We need to prioritize Nimule Point of Entry and provide more services such as administration of vaccines for other diseases like measles,” says Mr. Gama.
About the Programme:
In 2020, the European Union committed 60 million euros to help stop COVID-19, mitigate its effects on the most vulnerable and lay the foundation for long-term recovery in seven countries under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). These are Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia. The regional project is managed by the UNOPS and implemented by the IGAD, IOM, UNICEF, Trademark East Africa (TMEA) and the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ).