This year (2013) in March, Mike and Mark from Health Care Sudan visited South Sudan to monitor ongoing projects and find out more about locations and situations where we would like to provide support. They visited Juba, travelled to Lainya county and Yei, Torit and Wau, across Central and Eastern Equatoria and up to Western and Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
It was clear that where support has been provided previously, much progress has been made and is ongoing with health indicators improving and primary health care services provided in a sustainable way. However, in new locations which have until now not been the focus of funding from government and aid agencies there is a desperate need for basic services and provisions, Lainya county being a case in point.
In Lainya, Mark travelled with our delivery partners the South Sudanese Health Association who have just begun to manage primary health care facilities in the county. They visited a primary health care centre at Roronya, in need of basic staffing such as midwives and nurses. The centre is in need of what the west would think are simple facilities: storage for drugs and equipment, delivery beds and working lighting, but which in South Sudan are luxuries often not experienced.
In Lora the primary health care centre lacked basic antibiotics and antimalarial drugs, did not have mosquito nets or accommodation for staff (often a necessity to encourage staff to commit and stay on-site) and the building and its rooms were unsecure. With funding and a joined-up approach with indigenous partners many of these problems can be fixed.
In Soka, still in Lainya county, Mark saw a primary health care unit in huge need of change. As the picture further above shows, there was a chronic lack of fundamental equipment. Imagine walking miles knowing that you needed to reach the unit in order to have support when you gave birth or became sick, only to arrive to a unit without trained staff, no delivery beds or equipment and indeed no beds at all, a leaking roof and where a Doctor who once worked there is buried at the front of the building. This was a harrowing sight.
Mark said about the facilities across Lainya, “It’s so easy to get disheartened by seeing so many places in desperate need of funding and where facilities and staff have been chronically underfunded and no sustainable assistance has come forward. However, funding is now getting through and the South Sudanese Health Association, led by amazing people, is starting to tackle the huge issues across the county. Further funding is clearly needed and Health Care Sudan will be part of that, though as a small charity we will need to work with larger partners to have the impact that is demanded. With commitment and recognition that any support of primary health care must be sustainable, the life chances of people across Lainya can be vastly improved.”