UNICEF in action
UNICEF uses the following five strategic approaches to improve health and nutrition for women and children in South Sudan:
- Supporting government efforts and strengthening its capabilities and systems, as well as increasing the effectiveness of health monitoring.
- Strengthening emergency efforts to reduce the impact of man-made or natural disasters and disease outbreaks, focusing on mothers and children under five.
- Increasing immunization coverage to eradicate polio and eliminate measles, including systems strengthening for routine immunization.
- Integrated child healthcare and nutrition support through the Accelerated Child Survival and Development (ACSD) strategy. This is a comprehensive package of routine child survival interventions – including immunization, de-worming, mosquito net provision, and health and nutrition education.
- Maternal health and nutrition interventions to strengthen maternal and newborn care at community level. This includes efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, reduce mortality rates and increase the coverage and quality of health and nutrition services for mothers and their babies.
- Reduction in the infant mortality rate by 18 per cent, from 102 per 1,000 live births in2006 to 75 per 1,000 live births in 2010.
- A 20 per cent drop in under-five mortality, from 135 to 105 per 1,000 live births from 2006 to 2010, respectively.
- Decrease in the number of measles cases from 2,000 in 2005 to less than 300 in 2010.
- Increase in the ownership of treated mosquito nets, from 39 per cent in 2006 to 52 per cent in 2010.
- No wild polio cases have been reported since June 2009 owing to strengthened systems of service delivery, monitoring, surveillance and communication.
- Drop in underweight prevalence (moderate and severe), from 33 per cent in 2006 to 28 per cent in 2010.
- Establishment of the South Sudan Health and Nutrition Sector Plan 2010–2012, which includes a medium term expenditure framework and the Health Management Information System in five out of the total 10 states.
UNICEF faces numerous challenges in implementing health and nutrition interventions in South Sudan;Insufficient drugs, and other essential supplies and equipment, coupled with very weak logistical capacities, limit the availability of supplies in some areas.
Low government capacity and lack of trained health workers, especially in rural health centres, is another impediment. Lastly, the limited number of healthcare facilities and personnel, which are not equitably spread across the country, makes it difficult for children and women to access preventative and life-saving services. For example, less than 15 qualified midwives are available for all of South Sudan, and most births are handled by un-trained village midwives or traditional birth attendants.