After more than 20 years of war, Southern Sudan is trying to reap the benefits of peace. A lot of rebuilding is taking place in infrastructure development, all this, as the health sector remains an area of prime concern.
Janice Jespersen is the health advisor for World Relief, a US based humanitarian agency with projects in Southern Sudan. VOA English to Africa reporter Angel Tabe asked her about the most pressing health issues in Southern Sudan.
“The Most pressing issue at this time is just providing basic services to the general population. There are still wide areas of the country that are cut off because of roads and lack of transportation, and the services are not equally distributed.” She adds though, that steps are underway to give the population better access to health care services, with the ministry is getting organized. “ The progress is very encouraging. What they’ve done is develop a new health policy, now they’re in the process of sub-contracting health services… this is a very important first step, which is paving the way for services to reach these communities.”
Jesperson says health centers already operating in major regions of the country will be improved for long-term services. “The trick now is to put in roads or transportation where people can come in, accelerate training, midwives are very few, this has been a long neglected area. Safe motherhood is going to be one of the big emphasis in the coming years.”
There will also be an emphasis on preventive health especially as the region is around countries with high HIV/AIDS prevalence. Jesperson says, “Southern Sudan has been kept at bay just because the population has been very isolated. There’s some areas which have no immunization, little immunization, had Polio coverage has been good in the last few years, but other areas – measles, malaria, have been lacking. We are trying to have all our under fives and pregnant women sleeping under long-lasting insecticide treated nets.”
Jesperson implores those who put their efforts into healthcare during the difficult war days not to relent, now that things have improved. “Now that we are moving towards a development phase, it’s just great seeing the same people having power to push things through in the ministry. I hope there will be support from the donors so that this really will be successful. There’s amazing amount pf work to be done here, it’s almost beyond imagination.”
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