WHO, MSF Highlight Poor Health Situation In Southern Sudan

Three quarters of people in South Sudan, which has a population of 8 million, do not have access to health care, and 10 percent of children there and in Darfur die before the age of 1, Mohammad Abdur Rab, the WHO’s representative to Sudan, said Thursday, Reuters/ABC News reports.  

Violence in different parts of the country are exacerbating health conditions, according to the article. In western Darfur, 15 percent of children are malnourished, Abdur Rab said, adding that diseases such as, diarrhea, malaria and meningitis were common. In the southern part of the country, more than 2,000 women die per every 100,000 live births, he said. “‘These figures are among the highest in the world,’ Abdur Rab said, faulting a ‘huge dearth of skilled manpower in health’ for the stark maternal mortality rate.”

He noted, “The March 2009 departure of NGOs has affected primary health services, resulting in a decline in the quality of care,” adding that shortages of drugs, surgical and anaesthesia equipment were causing additional stress. “Abdur Rab said international donors needed to increase their support for fragile health services in Sudan, with special attention to secondary and tertiary care centres whose funding he said was about to run dry,” Reuters/ABC News writes (MacInnis, 11/5).

On Friday, Medecins Sans Frontieres warned that Southern Sudan is facing a “serious outbreak” of kala azar, or visceral leishmaniasis – a neglected tropical disease transmitted by the sand fly, Agence France-Presse/News24 reports. “Outbreaks have been recorded in several locations across the remote states of Jonglei and Upper Nile, with more than 380 patients being treated since October. That is more than [three] times the rate recorded for the whole of the previous year, when only 110 cases were treated, MSF warned,” the news service writes. David Kidinda, the MSF medical coordinator in southern Sudan, said, “We suspect that the number of kala azar patients reaching clinics in some areas is just the tip of the iceberg” (11/6).