Disease Strikes the Sudanese State of Kasala
By Teresa Sfeir
Due to heavy rains in the past few months and poor sanitary conditions, flies and mosquitos have multiplied in Sudan’s Kasala state. As a result, diseases such as malaria, typhoid, cholera and chikungunya have spread. The first suspected case of chikungunya was reported on August 8, 2018. From that time to October 2, 13,978 cases were reported, 95% of them within the Kasala state.
Chikungunya is a virus transmitted by the same kind of mosquito that spreads the dengue and Zika viruses. Its symptoms include a sudden fever and joint pain. While most patients recover fully within weeks, joint pain may last for several months, or even years. In older people, the disease can result in death.
Health Minister Mohamed Abuzaid denied that any deaths have been reported due to chikungunya fever. More recently, he sent a medical expert to examine the cases. The expert expressed the need for observatories at Khartoum airport and bus stations so that the virus isn’t transmitted any further than the eastern state.
Despite government efforts, the absence of a good surveillance system makes it difficult to target the reasons behind the outbreak. The financial and technical resources needed are absent as well. If this isn’t addressed in time, the number of cases will continue to increase and eventually burden the already over-burdened country. The disease might also reach neighboring countries.
Theological and Missiological Reflections
In her April 2018 Regional Brief on South Sudanese child soldiers, Manal al-Tayyar alluded to Matthew 18:6 as a warning against the atrocities committed against children. It is a warning that stands the test of time.
At the beginning of Matthew 18, the disciples ask, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” At a time when children held low status in the community, Jesus held them up as an example for adults to follow if they wished to even enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He commends their “lowly position” as the desired norm. Later, in verse 10, he says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in Heaven.”
It is then utterly inexcusable to exploit children just because they are physically weaker, just because they are inexperienced, just because they are legally dependent, and just because one can.