Mongolian peacekeepers help battle malaria in flood-ravaged Bentiu
UNITY - As the rainy season descends upon South Sudan, it brings two perennial challenges—widespread flooding and a formidable explosion of the mosquito population.
It’s a deadly combination as roads become impassable delaying the delivery of vital supplies to combat an inevitable surge in mosquito-borne illnesses, notably malaria.
Yesterday, Mongolian peacekeepers, serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in Unity state’s capital, Bentiu, embarked on a worthy mission.
A dedicated team of military medical and hygiene officers made their way to Bentiu Hospital, equipped with essential medical supplies, tests, and medications.
In a makeshift medical tent, they carried out tests for malaria and COVID-19.
Astonishingly, a third of the 150 malaria tests administered came back positive, underscoring the looming health crisis in the region.
Peacekeepers immediately provided necessary medication to those who tested positive for malaria, reinforcing their proactive response to this potentially deadly disease.
Isaac Wadar Maker, a young man with malaria, voiced his gratitude for the critical support he received.
"Getting sick makes us worry, but Mongolian peacekeepers gave us hope and much-needed medical aid. I can't thank them enough," he said.
Despite the presence of sickness, the crowd maintained an uplifting spirit, with only a few, brief tears shed by children unfamiliar with the testing procedure.
Mongolian Blue Helmets also handed over much-needed supplies to hospital staff, including protective gear for medical personnel, medicine, and tests for other deadly diseases such as Hepatitis-B, Hepatitis-C, and HIV.
Highlighting the significance of this intervention by the UN Peacekeeping mission, Dr. Banen Non, the Head of Bentiu Hospital stated, "We do have some tests, but many of our supplies are cut off due to flooding and the ongoing conflict in Sudan, our northern neighbour. The contribution from the Mongolians has significantly lightened the load for our already overburdened hospital."
While the primary role of peacekeepers is to protect civilians from violence, many often go beyond the mission’s mandate to support host communities and this medical outreach is a prime example of such committed service.
"We are more than peacekeepers; we are part of this community. Their challenges are ours to shoulder too. We remain committed to serving and protecting the people of Unity State, not just through peacekeeping, but also through these life-saving initiatives," revealed Captain Amanbyek Soltan, Medical Officer, Mongolia.
The high rate of positive malaria tests serves as a stark reminder of the severity of the situation in Unity State and underscores the need for continued, concerted efforts to combat the disease. As the rain season rages on, the UNMISS peacekeepers remain vigilant and ready.