A partnership between the Italian NGO, Doctors with Africa CUAMM, and the Ministry of Health has achieved outstanding success saving the lives of mothers and babies in a rural hospital in South Sudan.
A bush ambulance and a handful of committed staff able to provide round the clock quality healthcare at Yirol County Hospital increased the number of women delivering at the facility by 47 per cent in the first year it was introduced, according to a study presented in Juba today. In the last three years, safe deliveries at the hospital then jumped by a further 100 per cent.
In South Sudan, around 90 per cent of women give birth at home but some suffer from life-threatening complications such as excessive bleeding after birth, requiring emergency medical care. Chiara Scanagatta, Country Director for Doctors with Africa CUAMM, said:
“In one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality rate on the planet, getting pregnant can be a terrifying time for women. But by ensuring a simple ambulance service can work in a rural setting, we’re helping to make pregnancy and delivery a little less scary.”
The poor condition of roads in Lakes State means transporting women needing medical care can be a difficult task, with potholes and flooding often making the simplest of journeys to hospital near impossible. Thanks to collaboration between the Lakes State Ministry of Health and Doctors with Africa CUAMM, communities in Yirol West can now dial a dedicated phone number and be sent an ambulance able to traverse the roads, reaching Yirol County Hospital for proper care and treatment.
The study “A hospital-centred approach to improving Emergency Medical Care in South Sudan” conducted by Doctors with Africa CUAMM, and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health, assesses the progress of the intervention, which began in 2008. The study also proposes ways forward to further improve emergency obstetric care in the country.
Doctors with Africa CUAMM’s work in Yirol County Hospital is currently funded by the Health Pooled Fund, a $185 million fund backed by the Governments of the UK, Australia, Canada, Sweden and the European Union to improve health in six of the country’s ten states. Dr Damianos Odeh, Director at the Health Pooled Fund, said:
“While there’s still a long way to go to stop mothers dying in childbirth, we’re confident that by sharing success with NGOs, donors and the Ministry of Health, we can help each other to come up with strategies that we know work in the South Sudanese context”.