News / Africa

South Sudan Still Most Dangerous Country For New Mothers

Women wait outside the packed, stuffy maternity ward of Juba's hospital, South Sudan. (H. McNeish / VOA)Women wait outside the packed, stuffy maternity ward of Juba's hospital, South Sudan. (H. McNeish / VOA)
x
Women wait outside the packed, stuffy maternity ward of Juba's hospital, South Sudan. (H. McNeish / VOA)
Women wait outside the packed, stuffy maternity ward of Juba's hospital, South Sudan. (H. McNeish / VOA)
Hannah McNeish
JUBA, South Sudan — A year after independence, South Sudan is still battling a lack of staff and resources as it tries to end its distinction of having the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.

In a steaming hot room in South Sudan’s main hospital, women puffing and wailing from labor pains squeeze up next to each other in a maternity ward with just 8 beds.

But more than 90 percent of births in South Sudan happen without the help of a skilled birth attendant, and more than 2,000 women die for every 100,000 live births.  This makes South Sudan one of the most dangerous places in the world to have a baby.

With no room left in the maternity unit, 22-year-old Nancy Francisco lies in a nearby ward getting ready to deliver her third baby.

She says that she has decided to come to a hospital because at home, there could be complications such as bleeding. She says she doesn’t know anyone that has died at home, but she has heard about that happening.

The United Nations’ Population Fund (UNFPA) is one of the main agencies trying to combat maternal mortality.  But in a country ravaged by more than five decades of civil war until independence from Sudan last year, aid agencies, like the nation, are struggling with the basics.

Gillian Garnett, a UNFPA midwifery specialist, says that she has never seen challenges like those faced in the world’s newest nation - a loss of some 2 million people to the war, countless others fleeing abroad or missing out on basic education.

Mothers who have just given birth sit on some of the hospital's eight maternity beds, Juba, South Sudan. (H. McNeish/VOA)Mothers who have just given birth sit on some of the hospital's eight maternity beds, Juba, South Sudan. (H. McNeish/VOA)
x
Mothers who have just given birth sit on some of the hospital's eight maternity beds, Juba, South Sudan. (H. McNeish/VOA)
Mothers who have just given birth sit on some of the hospital's eight maternity beds, Juba, South Sudan. (H. McNeish/VOA)
“One of the major issues here for South Sudan is human resources for health, and in particular midwives.  We know that in maternal health and to reduce mortality, access to skilled attendants at birth can reduce maternal mortality as much as 30 percent, and here in South Sudan there’s just a limited number of midwives,” Garnett said.

Garnett says that South Sudan only has eight registered midwives.

Julia Amatoko is one of three that works at Juba’s hospital.  She says the three professional midwives only work up until 7 p.m., and that two women have died at night as community midwives and traditional birth attendants cannot cope with serious cases.

“For me, I want all those community midwives to be trained again, and others to be trained again, to increase the quality [of] care [for] the mother,” Amatoko said.

Doctor Mergani Abdalla, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at the hospital, says that trying to reduce maternal mortality is hampered by culture and a lack of awareness about maternal health.  He says most women wait until the last minute to come to a hospital.  He says that even if the drugs and the facilities are there, the hospitals may not have the right people to deal with these cases.

“She is now in a health facility, we can say a secondary health facility. If the personnel is not around, the intervention is delayed also, there will be complications. So, we have the highest maternal mortality in the world, due to bleeding, infection and other indirect causes -- you have malaria, you have HIV, you have anemia, all this,” Merfani said.

Despite building its first blood bank this year, the hospital still relies on a small fridge full of blood donated mainly by relatives for people awaiting surgery.

Breaking down taboos about blood donation will be the only way to fill the bank and stop deaths caused by blood loss, the most common cause of maternal mortality, even in the hospital.

​But no one expects a quick fix to a problem in such a vast and neglected country that lacks proper roads needed for women to even reach their nearest health facility.

There is great hope for the first batch of midwives to graduate from school next year. With around 200 new midwives expected to join the ranks, the future for South Sudan’s new mothers looks much brighter.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: koang kay from: Upper Nile state
July 17, 2012 8:10 AM
the is south sudan is real country. we need to support the new nation new south sudan

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid