MTN launches school sanitation drive in face of cholera

At a School in Juba, UNICEF and MTN partners braved a day-long downpour, rolled up sleeves, and dipped hands in detergent as they kicked off a health education campaign to clear sanitation hurdles at a time when cholera is devastating the nation.

"Cholera is transmitted mostly by poor sanitation and hygiene," Ms Bina Jackson lujanga, acting Director for Nutrition, ministry of Health, Central Equatoria, told the students at Comboni Secondary School, during the first of a weeklong series of stops and events, including health education and provision of detergents, planned for various schools.

"We don't want you to get HIV/AIDS," added Dr. Thelma Majela, Life Skills and Peace Building Education Specialist, UNICEF South Sudan. "We want you to be an agent for social change."

The Health awareness campaign is a sub-theme of the 21 Days of Y’ello Care, a Corporate Social Responsibility staff volunteerism initiative of the MTN Group. Held every June 1st to 21st, MTN staff volunteer in the communities, now 22 countries, in which the company operates. "Because of the current condition In South Sudan, we thought it would be a good idea to combine education and health," Mr. Philip Besiimire, Chief Executive Officer, MTN South Sudan, told the students. “The cholera epidemic in the country, if not contained, it could affect us all and you would not be able to come to school. So, we partnered with UNICEF and others to come and talk to you about health awareness, things that you need to know about so that we can contain the spread of cholera in our communities.”

According to the situation report of the UN humanitarian agency’s situation report for June 7, more than 1,300 cases of cholera and 29 related deaths have been registered and the outbreak is spreading outside the city ‘to Yei and Kajo Keji in Central Equatoria State.” And Doctors Without Borders, MSF, which has set up three treatment centers and three oral rehydration points, says the pattern has been for an increase in patients, followed by subsequent days where the numbers seeking treatment begin to decrease. “However, the peak after each trough is a little higher than the previous peak,” Brian P. Moeller," Brian P. Moller, the MSF Head of Mission, says in a statement. "When the outbreak enters a trough phase, people start to relax.. So there is no room for complacency, as patient numbers could escalate again.”

This year’s theme, “Investing in Education For All', the same as the one of the previous two years, is meant to give the company the opportunity to expand and consolidate the efforts to positively impact the educational sector. 

"It’s because we believe that the UN Millennium Development Goals are getting stuck," the Head of Corporate Affairs Khumbulani Dhlomo, says of the focus on education. “The feeling is that not much has happened."

Last year, MTN Group' South Sudan operation, provided computers to Juba University library, built latrines at the university and at Supiri Secondary School, cemented classroom floors and provided desks to Gabat Basic School, where pupils studied on a dusty floor, and provided solar power to Wau Teaching Hospital, where doctors often trained and operated in the dark.

"Many governments will not have achieved their targets for education by 2015, and it's, therefore, necessary for private businesses to do what they can in achieving quality education for all, says Dhlomo.




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