South Sudan is now entering its fourth decade of conflict. The First and Second Sudanese Civil Wars (between North and South Sudan) spanned most of the last 50 years, and the latter claimed nearly two million lives and left four million others homeless. Following a referendum on secession from the North, South Sudan became an independent nation on 9th July 2011.
Disputes still remain with Sudan on distribution of oil revenues and conflicts are still ongoing in Abeyi and the Nuba Mountains. Thousands of South Sudanese citizens resident in the north have been forcibly expelled back to South Sudan, placing a great strain on the young countries fragile infrastructure. Whilst South Sudan has made great strides in the past five years, it remains one of the least developed regions in the world.
International Medical Corps began implementing programmes in South Sudan more than 17 years ago, at the height of the civil war. Early programmes focused on the delivery of primary and secondary health services as well as some unique programmes that focused on reduction of River Blindness (Onchocerciasis), Sleeping Sickness (Trypanosomiasis), and other Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Currently, International Medical Corps works in rural and urban areas in South Sudan, focusing on improving immediate and long-term health service provision. Health services are provided through more than 50 primary and secondary health facilities that International Medical Corps supports in nine counties across four states on both sides of the Nile River. Through these and other structures, International Medical Corps serves more than 878,000 refugees, returnees, and other vulnerable populations through a fully integrated package of public health services that include primary health care (including maternal and child health), HIV/AIDS, nutrition, Water/Sanitation, secondary health care and capacity building programmes.
Currently, we support Akobo County Hospital located in a volatile area near the eastern border with Ethiopia. International Medical Corps is providing critical health care services for the population including emergency health services for those wounded by ongoing outbreaks of tribal violence.
International Medical Corps has also provided HIV awareness, prevention, VCT, and PMTCT in Jonglei and Upper Nile States. The populations in these states have been subjected to high levels of violence and displacement in the past two years, increasing their vulnerability to exposure and infection.
The Government of South Sudan and the Ministry of Health (MoH) have made great strides since the end of the civil war. Unfortunately, without sufficient numbers of qualified staff and resources, it is not possible for the MoH to adequately provide for the health needs of the South Sudanese.
With support from our partners and donors, International Medical Corps established and continues to support the National Health Training Institute (NHTI) in Kajo Keji, Central Equatoria State. In order to increase the number of mid-level health professionals, the NHTI offered training programmes for students in community midwifery. Several classes of midwifery students have graduated from these programmes and are now adding to the nation’s nursing capacity.
After several years of technical support and expansion of the Kajo Keji Civil Hospital, International Medical Corps was able to transition hospital management to the Central Equatoria State Ministry of Health. The facility was renamed Kajo Keji State Hospital and now serves the area’s 200,000 residents under the guidance of a government-appointed administrator.
International Medical Corps UK recognises the invaluable support of the following European donors to make our work possible.
Just 22 hours after the devastating 7.0-earthquake hit in January 2010, International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team was on the ground in Haiti providing medical care to survivors. Our doctors and nurses were able to mobilise on an unparalleled scale to provide 24-hour emergency care to the acutely injured at the Hôpital de l’Université d’État d’Haiti (HUEH), a 700-bed hospital in Port-au-Prince. HUEH was badly damaged in the earthquake and many local health care professionals were missing. We were able to save thousands of lives through emergency and trauma care in the critical days following the earthquake.
At the height of emergency operations at the hospital, International Medical Corps treated approximately 1,000 patients per day. Our early entry also gave us the foundation to rapidly expand our operations to 15 mobile clinics throughout Haiti to provide critical services. Through the hospital and mobile and fixed clinics, International Medical Corps teams provided more than 110,000 patient consultations during the first year following the emergency.
When reports of acute diarrhoea emerged from the north of Haiti in October 2010, International Medical Corps doctors and nurses immediately deployed to the region providing emergency relief for the growing cholera crisis. Our network of rapidly constructed cholera treatment centres, supported by 820 community health volunteers to educate communities on how to prevent and identify cholera, meant that more than 30,000 cholera patients received life-saving treatment within the first year following the outbreak.
International Medical Corps was among the first organisations to enter Libya once the conflict began in February 2011, providing emergency medical care to casualties from the fighting and support to hospitals with medical staff and supplies. Among the first challenges our Emergency Response Teams encountered was a chronic shortage of nurses, as thousands of foreign nurses had fled the country. In partnership with the Jordan Health Aid Society, International Medical Corps immediately deployed volunteer nurses to health centres across eastern Libya moving them to towns and cities throughout the country as access permitted. Volunteer nurses trained the local counterparts while working alongside them.
At the country’s borders and within Libya, we supplied those displaced by the fighting with essential relief items, including blankets, bottled water and food. Recognising the danger posed by communicable diseases, our sanitation and hygiene specialists constructed latrines and washing stations in transit camps along the Tunisia borders.
As the fighting went on International Medical Corps worked as close to the front line as possible, providing emergency treatment to those injured in the conflict, and medicines and supplies to besieged towns and cities. In Misurata, inaccessible by road, we evacuated nearly 500 injured civilians by boat. International Medical Corps’ mobile field hospitals treated the wounded from battles in Tripoli, the Western Mountains, Bani Walid, Sabha, Jufrah and Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte.
International Medical Corps mobilized an emergency response in Mali in January 2013 after rebel armed forces from the north began moving south, triggering French military intervention. In Timbuktu, which had spent months under the control of armed Islamist rebel our team were amongst the first international organisations to arrive and found pillaged clinics, missing medical personnel and damaged health infrastructure.
We immediately began supporting eight strategically targeted health clinics in remote areas around Timbuktu, where the Malian Ministry of Health has been unable to maintain adequate services to local communities. By providing medicines, training staff and recruiting qualified doctors and nurses, we can ensure local people will now have access to basic primary and secondary health care for the first time in months
True to our mission to build self reliance, International Medical Corps is also already training community health workers to go out to local markets and spread essential hygiene, reproductive health and nutrition messages. We are also working to rehabilitate clinics damaged during the conflict, by building or repairing latrines, water systems, solar panel systems and other infrastructure repairs, enabling health workers to have stable and well-equipped facilities to help the people of Mali.
Basanti, a young mother of two in Nepal, returned home from fetching water for her family to find her 8-month old son Bishal had fallen into the open cooking fire. Basanti was in shock, but she wrapped her baby in blankets and ran for help. No one in their village or at the local health post knew what to do so she had to travel more than six hours by bus to seek emergency care at the closest hospital. The district hospital could only stabilize Bishal and wasn’t able to treat his wounds properly. As a result, his little fingers contracted into a fist as the burned skin contracted and “healed” over the coming year, making it impossible for him to use his hand. His cheek, lips and eyelid also contracted and tightened, threatening his vision.
After selling part of their farm to pay for transportation to Kathmandu, Basanti sought further treatment for her baby. However, two hospitals in the nation’s capital could not help either. Adding to Basanti’s struggles, her husband abandoned the family, leaving her alone to care for Bishal and his four-year-old sister.
Thankfully, Basanti heard about the surgical care available through ReSurge International, our trusted partner with a 43-year history of serving burn victims. Dr. Rai, ReSurge’s Outreach Director in Nepal, and his team restored Bishal’s eyelid and his hand will soon be surgically repaired as well.
Even though it took more than a year for him to get appropriate treatment, Bishal is one of the lucky ones. Thousands of children never get the care they need to live a normal life after a disabling burn.