How mother and twins narrowly survived death
Highlighting accomplishments made by Boma Hospital surgical team operating a medical facility in a hard-to-reach and remote community in South Sudan
In the best circumstances, performing surgery isn’t an easy undertaking. For remote areas such as Boma County situated in the Pibor Administrative Area, access to basic health services is even more challenging, and surgical interventions can be particularly difficult to deliver.
But with health funding from the World Bank, UNICEF, and its partner ForAfrika run the Boma Hospital delivering timely and life-saving essential health, nutrition, and other services for the population in this remote and difficult-to-reach corner of South Sudan.
For effective service delivery, the hospital established a 5-member surgical team that has made a significant impact on the community.
Led by Dr. Moses Suleiman, the team performs an average of 5 operations per month and has contributed to saving many lives. Other members of the team are Dr. Tonny Odyek Olung, an anesthetist, Samuel Mayom – Theater Nurse, Eric Telemaris – Sacculating Nurse and Kaka Korok, the theater custodian.
The twins whose survival was precarious
Matara Debeta's story is a testament to the dedication and skill of the surgical medical professionals who are working tirelessly to improve healthcare delivery in challenging circumstances across Boma County.
Matara in her early 30’s, is a mother of 4 who lives in Kasengor – North of Boma town, 70 kilometers from Boma Hospital.
Attended to by a traditional midwife in the village, Matara was unable to deliver her second twin – a labor process that almost cost her life and that of her newborns.
“During my pregnancy, I thought all was well but when I was delivering, the first son was delivered well but the second twin according to doctors was upside down, with one leg out and the rest of his body inside."
“The moment things became hard, my relatives carried me for days to reach Boma Hospital, where I got operated on. Sincerely, I didn’t know if I would make it to life again, let alone my children,” said Matara.
If this hospital wasn’t here, I would have passed on. I became happy when I had my second breath after the operation. I am so grateful to the doctors here for helping me and to several other patients here.
Mary Nyibol is employed as a midwife by UNICEF’s partner ForAfrika at Boma Hospital. Noting on Matara’s incident, Mary revealed that Matara’s second twin was obstructed, stressing that her case would cost their lives if the ForAfrika surgical team were not prepared and ready.
“Her case was so difficult because the second twin had numerous complications, starting from leg presentation, hand prolapse, and the baby’s position was oblique across the womb. I tried delivering that baby, but I could not manage. Having seen those difficulties."
I immediately invited the surgical team to attend to her, and they did an amazing job. Seeing the babies now healthy brings a lot of joy and excitement to me and my professional career as a midwife as I serve Boma communities facing a lot of challenges.
Gerald, a survivor who was operated on twice
Gerald’s story isn’t much different from Matara’s event. Gerald Gola works for the Boma County as a medical assistant at the Boma Hospital Dispensary Unit. On his way to Upper Boma to check on his relative in March this year, he had a run-in with local criminals that almost ended his life.
“The criminals shot me badly. The bullet passed through my stomach and all the intestines came out. After crying and bleeding extremely, some locals walking along the road heard my voice and helped rush me to the hospital."
“I underwent a very difficult situation to the extent that the operation had to be done twice, with the second operation conducted on 22nd of March and I had to stay in the hospital for 2 months” Gerald narrated.
The young man in his late 30s stressed that without the medical-surgical team and services available on the ground, he would have died.
I am so grateful to the medical personnel here, especially the surgical team who brought me back to life. And I appeal for more medical personnel to be brought to Boma Hospital.
Dr. Tonny Odyek Olung – an anesthetist who took part in Gerald’s two different complex operations describes Gerald’s previous condition as horrible.
“When he was brought to the facility, he was in a coma. We immediately did a laparotomy (abdomen surgery), and we saw a lot of intestinal injuries. We also had to do resection lysis to restore numerous functions, and all went well, and he is alive and able to talk and walk."
“Earlier this year, we also handled the same complex case of an Ethiopian man who had cuts in his stomach. But we did our best and we received a call from Ethiopia weeks ago that he is healed and staying happily with his family,” said Tonny.
Tonny, says that the surgical team is happy after saving several lives.
We are always excited as the surgical team when we hear positive stories from our patients. I believe without the presence of the surgical team and the theater; Gerald would have not survived because there are stories from the communities of such cases where people don’t make it.
“We are always excited as the surgical team when we hear positive stories from our patients. I believe without the presence of the surgical team and the theater; Gerald would have not survived because there are stories from the communities of such cases where people don’t make it."
“The communities in Boma are happy with ForAfrika, UNICEF, and the donors for their support as compared to when such medical cases were referred to Kapoeta Hospital,” Tonny added Tony.
The medic concluded that without Boma Hospital and donor support, the country would be in a very challenging health situation, highlighting the importance of World Bank health funding.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness (CERHSP) is a partnership between the World Bank, UNICEF, and the Ministry of Health, premised on strengthening the response to COVID-19 while consolidating and improving health service delivery.
Last month, World Bank provided additional $70 million health funding to counter challenges and prevent further health crises, and support the effective delivery of essential healthcare services in remote and conflicted areas of Jonglei, Pibor, Reweng, Upper, and Unity in South Sudan.
But since its inception, the project has helped 1,217 health facilities in 80 counties as well as supporting nearly 2000 Boma health workers, benefiting thousands of local communities