October 29, 2013 (JUBA) - Less than 50% of the South Sudanese populations have access to health care services, an indication the country has one of the lowest health pointers in the world, statistics show.
- A health ward in South Sudan, a country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world(IRIN/Elizabeth Deacon)
The young nation, according the health officials, only has 1.5 medical doctors and two nurses for every 100,000 patients, which is far below the World Health Organisation (WHO)-recommended standard of 250 health workers per 100,000 people.
The revelation emerged at the end of a two-day workshop IOM organised for various stakeholders in the South Sudan capital, Juba on the country’s human health status.
"It [workshop] aimed to identify South Sudanese in the Diaspora with health skills, seeking to explore ways for involving them, both individually and through associations, in the transfer of knowledge and skills to the country’s health care system, specifically health training institutes and medical college", IOM’s Christiane Berthiaume told a United Nations briefing on Monday.
“Through the initiative, IOM provided technical support to the Government of South Sudan to develop a national Diaspora engagement strategy for the health sector”, she stressed.
The chairman of the project steering committee and director general for international health and coordination in the health ministry acknowledged that challenges still existed in the country’s health sector.
"There are many challenges for diaspora to return permanently. We recognise this and hope that this workshop will pave the way for the development of a diaspora-friendly government policy," Dr. Lul Riek said.
Our ultimate goal is to encourage diaspora members to share their expertise with health professionals here in South Sudan, he added.
South Sudan currently has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, estimated at 2,054 per 100,000 live births, according to statistics from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Also, of the 46.7% of pregnant women who attend at least one antenatal care, only 14% are reportedly attended to by a trained health worker.
Meanwhile, infant mortality rate in the country is reportedly at 105 per 1000 children born alive, with pneumonia, diarrheal diseases and malnutrition cited as major causes.