This afternoon we visited two sites where USAID, together with community groups, is helping improve health in Juba.
Sudan is a top U.S. government foreign policy priority; we need this country to be on a stable, peaceful path, which in turn is crucial to regional security. Ultimately this means transitioning from humanitarian assistance to long-term development.
At more than $1 billion per year, USAID’s program in Sudan is our largest in sub-Saharan Africa. One important project is the Lolongo Clinic in an outlying area of Juba, which helps meet the community’s basic health needs while also educating parents in preventative care. About 35,000 people in the region rely on the treatment and care that Lolongo offers; that works out to about $6 per person per year.
Non-governmental organizations such as this clinic account for a full 86 percent of all health care services in Sudan. And it’s by far not enough. Southern Sudan has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world, and a girl stands a higher chance of dying in childbirth than completing secondary school.
And here’s one main reason: All of Southern Sudan has only half a dozen midwives to address the kinds of deadly complications that can arise when bearing a child here.
I spoke with doctors, nurses, clients and surrounding residents about what more can be done to ensure better service for their people.
After that, we visited a distribution point for clean water that was opened last fall under USAID’s Urban Water Sanitation and Health Program. The WASH program is at work in Juba and other growing towns that have been affected by recent cholera outbreaks.
Only 13 percent of southern Sudanese currently have adequate water treatment; a mere six percent have sanitary means of disposing of solid human waste. And an alarming 3.3 percent have access to both of these essential elements to health. It’s no wonder that so many are falling ill! The WASH program is working hard to improve these numbers first in the urban areas, and then farther afield.