Two debilitating civil wars in the Republic of South Sudan (1955-1972 and 1983-2005) claimed lives of more than million people and also halted the development of this part of Africa for the last 50 years. The wars caused massive damages, repeated famines, and forced more than 3 million of inhabitants (30% of the South Sudanese population) to leave their homes.
Military actions did not allow for a proper development of a healthcare infrastructure; South Sudan that occupies territory comparable to the territory of France has only 20, usually small, hospitals, about 100 outpatient clinics, and 550 village health centers. All those institutions suffer an acute lack of doctors and qualified medical staff and the village health centers are run by personnel with only a few months training.
There is no system of referring the ill to the more specialized institutions, including referring patients from health centers to hospitals. This means that patients not only cannot receive proper first medical help and consultation but also that they do not have any real possibility of being transported to a hospital.
Additionally, the rate of infection with AIDS increases steadily in this region of Africa and presently may reach even 7%. The situation did not improve significantly after signing the peace treaty that ended the war in 2005.
Dramatic health situation in South Sudan is not only evidenced by a high mortality rate and short life expectancy that currently averages 35-40 years, but also by a shocking reproductive health situation. According to the UNFPA data, the official number of female deaths caused by pregnancy – and childbirth-related complications (1,700 for 100,000 live births) puts South Sudan on the 5th place on the list of countries with the highest mortality in the world (right after Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Malawi, and Angola).
Only 21% of pregnant women have access to medical care, which is of a very poor level anyways. In some of the provinces, the lack of hospitals and doctors makes any gynecological or obstetric tests and consultations virtually impossible. Only 5-6% of childbirths occur in a presence of a midwife.
Women in need of medical care during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth usually cannot get to the nearest clinic due to significant distances, lack of roads, bridges, and means of transportation. Many women are unaware of their health problems – only 12% of women can read. Health education focuses mostly on the basic necessities such as washing hands, face, or filtering water.
Additionally, many uneducated recipients and listeners find explanations of medical problems too complicated. All of these factors make medical conditions such as obstetric fistula very common in South Sudan.
Education and professional training related needs
The lack of professional skills is a huge barrier in the development of thousands of young people.
Juba – the capital city of South Sudan attracts thousands of people looking for better life and better jobs. Many of them are those who come back to their homelands after years of exile caused by the civil war. Living in a constant fear and danger, lack of schools and education during the 20 years of war shaped a generation of young people who lack almost any professional skills. After signing the peace treaty ending the civil war, a new era of many investments starts in Juba. It gives some hope to young people that eventually they will be able to find jobs in the city.
However, the main obstacle for their employment is their lack of professional skills. There is a need for specialist from many different fields – carpenters, electricians, construction workers, mechanics, drivers, and many others. However, the country is short of qualified employees who could fill all those new positions.
At the same time, many intelligent, energetic, and eager young people stay at home only because they did not receive a proper education that would let them find work. Such a situation very often leads to social pathologies. This problem is one of the main impediments in the development of Juba and in the improvement of life quality of its inhabitants.