News / Africa

South Sudan Still Most Dangerous Country For New Mothers

Women wait outside the packed, stuffy maternity ward of Juba's hospital, South Sudan. (H. McNeish / VOA)Women wait outside the packed, stuffy maternity ward of Juba's hospital, South Sudan. (H. McNeish / VOA)
x
Women wait outside the packed, stuffy maternity ward of Juba's hospital, South Sudan. (H. McNeish / VOA)
Women wait outside the packed, stuffy maternity ward of Juba's hospital, South Sudan. (H. McNeish / VOA)
Hannah McNeish
JUBA, South Sudan — A year after independence, South Sudan is still battling a lack of staff and resources as it tries to end its distinction of having the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.

In a steaming hot room in South Sudan’s main hospital, women puffing and wailing from labor pains squeeze up next to each other in a maternity ward with just 8 beds.

But more than 90 percent of births in South Sudan happen without the help of a skilled birth attendant, and more than 2,000 women die for every 100,000 live births.  This makes South Sudan one of the most dangerous places in the world to have a baby.

With no room left in the maternity unit, 22-year-old Nancy Francisco lies in a nearby ward getting ready to deliver her third baby.

She says that she has decided to come to a hospital because at home, there could be complications such as bleeding. She says she doesn’t know anyone that has died at home, but she has heard about that happening.

The United Nations’ Population Fund (UNFPA) is one of the main agencies trying to combat maternal mortality.  But in a country ravaged by more than five decades of civil war until independence from Sudan last year, aid agencies, like the nation, are struggling with the basics.

Gillian Garnett, a UNFPA midwifery specialist, says that she has never seen challenges like those faced in the world’s newest nation - a loss of some 2 million people to the war, countless others fleeing abroad or missing out on basic education.

Mothers who have just given birth sit on some of the hospital's eight maternity beds, Juba, South Sudan. (H. McNeish/VOA)Mothers who have just given birth sit on some of the hospital's eight maternity beds, Juba, South Sudan. (H. McNeish/VOA)
x
Mothers who have just given birth sit on some of the hospital's eight maternity beds, Juba, South Sudan. (H. McNeish/VOA)
Mothers who have just given birth sit on some of the hospital's eight maternity beds, Juba, South Sudan. (H. McNeish/VOA)
“One of the major issues here for South Sudan is human resources for health, and in particular midwives.  We know that in maternal health and to reduce mortality, access to skilled attendants at birth can reduce maternal mortality as much as 30 percent, and here in South Sudan there’s just a limited number of midwives,” Garnett said.

Garnett says that South Sudan only has eight registered midwives.

Julia Amatoko is one of three that works at Juba’s hospital.  She says the three professional midwives only work up until 7 p.m., and that two women have died at night as community midwives and traditional birth attendants cannot cope with serious cases.

“For me, I want all those community midwives to be trained again, and others to be trained again, to increase the quality [of] care [for] the mother,” Amatoko said.

Doctor Mergani Abdalla, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at the hospital, says that trying to reduce maternal mortality is hampered by culture and a lack of awareness about maternal health.  He says most women wait until the last minute to come to a hospital.  He says that even if the drugs and the facilities are there, the hospitals may not have the right people to deal with these cases.

“She is now in a health facility, we can say a secondary health facility. If the personnel is not around, the intervention is delayed also, there will be complications. So, we have the highest maternal mortality in the world, due to bleeding, infection and other indirect causes -- you have malaria, you have HIV, you have anemia, all this,” Merfani said.

Despite building its first blood bank this year, the hospital still relies on a small fridge full of blood donated mainly by relatives for people awaiting surgery.

Breaking down taboos about blood donation will be the only way to fill the bank and stop deaths caused by blood loss, the most common cause of maternal mortality, even in the hospital.

​But no one expects a quick fix to a problem in such a vast and neglected country that lacks proper roads needed for women to even reach their nearest health facility.

There is great hope for the first batch of midwives to graduate from school next year. With around 200 new midwives expected to join the ranks, the future for South Sudan’s new mothers looks much brighter.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: koang kay from: Upper Nile state
July 17, 2012 8:10 AM
the is south sudan is real country. we need to support the new nation new south sudan

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid