South Sudan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Years of conflict and displacement have hampered infrastructure and led to a lack of accessible healthcare services for the safe delivery of babies. Many families are also unaware of the dangers of delivering their babies at home without suitable medical supervision, increasing the risk of complications.
Kuiy Chol is among those affected. The 30-year-old mother went into labour and gave birth in her community. Two days later, she experienced complications, including bleeding, and her condition worsened. She was taken to a health facility by family members when she was already exhausted from prolonged labour.
Fearing for her life
“I was scared for my baby and for my own life. I had little energy left in my body. My baby was also exhausted because I couldn’t feed him properly. I never thought we would survive this long, especially my baby,” Kuiy says. Fortunately, the medical team were able to save Kuiy and her baby’s life.
“I will not advise anyone to give birth at home. Because I saw the outcome on me and my child. It is not safe,’’ Kuiy adds.
Education is key
Education is crucial to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates in the country. As well as providing direct healthcare services, GOAL teams also conduct health education sessions and community meetings to create awareness about the dangers of unsafe delivery practices.
“Since the intervention launched, we are working hard to make sure no mother gives birth outside of health facilities, but once in a while, we find cases such as Kuiy’s. We all were excited to see the baby’s and the mother’s fast recovery. I thank everyone who is working to save lives here in Abyei. I am also grateful to ECHO, for supporting us financially to save lives.” Julya Achol, GOAL’s midwife, says.
Partnership in Action
GOAL teams are now working closely with EU humanitarian aid, Save the Children, and the Ministry of Health to support mothers before and after the birth of their children. Local healthcare professionals have noted a huge improvement since the project began.
“The health system was not as strong as it is now. Due to different limitations, it was not possible to provide basic health care services,” says Kon Thon, Director General for the State Ministry of Health in the Abyei Special Administrative Area.
“Since this project started, services have been provided properly. Both GOAL and Save the Children came with better equipment, so the service has been enhanced. They also have better access and stock of critical drugs, so we are grateful for the support,” Kon continues.
GOAL teams are continuing to raise awareness of safe delivery practices amongst local communities. Although significant improvements have been made to local medical facilities, accessibility remains a problem. As long as rural communities face poor transport infrastructure, many families in South Sudan will struggle to access essential services.