On Thursday last week, South Sudan became the 193rd member state of the United Nations. Mauritius graciously lent their flag pole to the new nation–which explains why their flag rose in the middle of the M’s–and people throughout the country and around the world hosted jubilant celebrations.
This bright, young new nation continues to face significant health challenges though. According to the 2006 South Sudan Household Health Survey, the country has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world at 2,054 deaths per 100,000 live births. Under-five mortality was at 135 deaths per 1,000 live births according to the same survey. Lack of sufficient trained staff, supplies, drugs and equipment create challenges in improving the health status of the people of South Sudan. Extreme poverty, with 90% of the population living on less than one dollar a day according to the Lancet, and the resettlement of many South Sudanese who fled to the north to avoid conflict, both complicate the challenging health situation.
Aid and development groups continue to provide resources and services to the people of South Sudan, including USAID and MCHIP. The MCHIP Immunization team has supported the country’s expanded program on immunization, including developing training modules to use with frontline health workers. Their work builds on projects initiated under the ImmunizationBASICS project, an MCHIP predecessor.
The Child Survival and Health Grants Program also supports health work in South Sudan through a grant to World Vision to improve maternal and child health in the Gogrial East and West Counties of Warrab State. The innovation grant will deliver high impact, low-cost and feasible interventions to improve health outcomes at the household and community level through the introduction of a new cadre of community health workers called Home Health Promoters. Through the use of community-based service delivery, the country hopes to improve access to prevention, care, treatment and basic emergency services across the country.
MCHIP congratulates the people of South Sudan on this exciting time in their new nation’s history!