One year on from the start of the crisis that has left more than 1.5 million people in urgent need of food and shelter, and fleeing for their lives, a new report from aid organisation CARE says South Sudan is in danger of falling into further crisis if the country’s health system is not significantly improved.
The new report, Critical Diagnosis: The case for placing South Sudan’s healthcare system at the heart of the humanitarian response, argues that South Sudan’s health system should be central to the humanitarian response to the country’s crisis.
CARE Australia CEO, Dr Julia Newton-Howes AM, who recently returned from South Sudan, said that with the world’s attention focused on Ebola and the crises in Gaza and Syria during much of 2014, it was tragic that the crisis facing the people of the world’s youngest nation had fallen away from the world’s attention.
“The conditions that people are enduring in South Sudan are some of the worst that I have ever seen. The equivalent of almost one third of the population of Melbourne is now at risk of starving to death. The scale of the desperation and need across South Sudan cannot be understated,” Dr Newton-Howes said.
CARE’s Country Director in South Sudan, Aimee Ansari said the Critical Diagnosis report emphasises why efforts to strengthen South Sudan’s health system must be comprehensive, rather than just being quick fixes.
“Even before this crisis, South Sudan had one of the worst health systems in the world. The statistics are staggering; one in seven mothers is dying from pregnancy and birth-related complications, only 4.8 per cent of women use ante-natal care, and 80 per cent of women are giving birth at home. And there is no doubt that the current crisis has made these statistics significantly worse,” Ms Ansari said.
Ms Ansari said more people in South Sudan were dying from the knock-on effects of the conflict, such as disease and hunger, than directly from the violence itself. She said for this reason it is critical that the South Sudanese health system is strongly supported.
“While an end to the violence is the single most important need to reduce thousands of needless deaths in South Sudan, simple improvements to the local health system can and will make a difference. Doing more community outreach and strengthening village health committees, for example, will make for a stronger health system that will be able to cope into the future.”
“We can do a lot more. International support must combine emergency and development help to build a local healthcare system that can serve the people of South Sudan for generations to come.”
Since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in December 2013, an estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced and an estimated 450,000 people have crossed into neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
CARE is providing emergency water, nutrition, sanitation, hygiene and livelihoods assistance. CARE also supports over 40 health facilities in Unity and Upper Nile States, two of the states most heavily affected by fighting. CARE is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities.
To donate to CARE’s work in South Sudan, visit www.care.org.au/southsudan or call 1800 020 046. $100 can give life-saving vaccinations, and $144 can feed three starving children.
Source: CARE Australia
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.