News / Africa

South Sudan Health Needs High

Conflict has displaced thousands of people.
Conflict has displaced thousands of people.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

While many people celebrate South Sudan’s independence, aid agencies warn the new nation still faces many problems. Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, says South Sudan is experiencing a “massive humanitarian emergency” that could continue for years.

“I think it is something that after the celebrations will need a lot of attention in the future,” said Jose Hulsenbek, head of mission for Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan. “The access of health care for the people is still extremely minimal. I mean we estimate that about 70 percent of the population has no access to basic, basic health care.”

Most of the health care services in South Sudan are provided by NGOs and U.N. and international agencies.

“It is going to be a while before the government will reach a level where they can actually provide that health care,” she said, “I just hope that the development that will come will not make people forget that there are some very critical things that will always be on going and need immediate attention.”

Big concerns

Among the major health concerns are disease and the effects of violence, as well as maternal and child care and chronic child malnutrition

“The other thing is we are in the midst of an outbreak of a parasitic disease called kala azar,” she said. It’s considered the most severe form of leishmaniasis and is fatal if left untreated. MSF said it’s a difficult disease to treat and lack of access to medical care makes the situation even worse.

“The government is not able to respond to this outbreak. Last year, we saw eight times more cases of kala azar than we’ve seen in previous years. So, we are preparing for this outbreak to continue. It’s a disease that is cyclical. Outbreaks like this do happen every couple of years, eight to 10 years officially. And we are unfortunately in the midst of that,” said Hulsenbek.

Women and kids

MSF reports that South Sudan has some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.

“For many months of the year, people have less access than normal to health care. During the rainy season, a pregnant woman may have to walk two or three days while in labor to access a clinic to get treatment if there are complications during the birth,” said the MSF head of mission.

As for children, Hulsenbek said, “There are a lot of very easily treatable diseases, but because they cannot make it to a clinic to receive this treatment…there are so many children who die.”

Returning home

It’s estimated about 300,000 people have returned to the south from the north in recent years, placing a greater strain on the system.

It’s just literally an increase in population, which means there are more people coming to the clinics. But…it puts a strain on all the services that are provided,” she said.

For example, the growing population means more food is needed. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re seeing malnutrition in certain areas,” she said.

MSF currently provides health services in 13 locations in eight states, including primary health care, hospitals, maternity care, nutrition centers and HIV and TB care and treatment.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid