A once wrecked hospital in Malakal, now serves over 10,000 people
Continuing to Improve health services in Upper Nile, South Sudan
Upper Nile’s healthcare system remains severely underdeveloped after years of conflict, natural disasters, and neglect. It remains with a high prevalence of disease, malnutrition, and a shortage of trained medical personnel. But UNICEF’s health programme with funding from the World Bank is working with the Ministry of Health to rebuild health service delivery.
Between January and July, the program supported 112 health facilities, resulting in almost 137,000 consultations, vaccinations of 30,434 children, provision of antenatal care services to 3,330 women, and safe deliveries of 5,479 babies who were attended by skilled midwives.
Among the health facilities under the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project in Upper Nile is the Malakal Teaching Hospital. The facility currently managed by UNICEF’s implementing partner International Medical Corps (IMC) leads as one of the biggest centers providing health and nutrition services to over 10,000 people.
Managed by Dr. Malai Chan - Acting Medical Director with the support of 74 other medical professionals, Malakal Teaching Hospital, which was destroyed during the 2013 civil war is regaining life, with the facility currently receiving 100 out-patients per day.
This medical center is saving lives. Currently, it provides treatment for common diseases like malaria, diarrhea, trauma cases, and injuries obtained by people because of crime-related events in Malakal town and beyond.
“UNICEF funding has been so supportive; the medical incentives have helped to keep the professionals working and serving the locals. Additionally, we have not received any government consignment for two years but with UNICEF consignments, it has really saved lives and made the hospital operational,” said Dr. Chan.
From antenatal care to childbirth, and immunization
Dr. Malai added that “Malakal Hospital without donor support would be vacated” - a statement Nyandom Majok, a 34-year Malakal Town resident attested to.
The hospitality in this facility is nice, I came with my labor contraction hours ago, and the medics diligently took care of me until I gave birth. That is the reason I chose to come and give birth here because my baby and I are safe simply because we were attended to.
“At times, even cutting the baby’s umbilical cord outside the health facility can easily lead to infections. Without the maternity ward at this hospital, women would suffer more. The ward has saved our lives and that of our children” Nyandom, a mother of 6 who had just given birth to her latest baby at the hospital’s maternity ward added.
Meanwhile, Mary Peter – a 16-year-old mother of two says she uses the facility to seek antenatal care services.
I believe I was able to deliver my first two children safely because of having followed the antenatal care services which are provided by this center. Without services in this center, our future as mothers and children would be dark because this place has always been home.
Where-as Jerry Awan Mabior who works as (EPI) Extended Programme on Immunization Vaccinator at Malakal Hospital Cold Chain, says the department vaccinates at least 30 children a day – an event he attributes to social and behavioral activities carried out in the area.
The number of infants in Malakal Town and beyond is large in number, and thus this makes the presence of the cold chain system of great importance to the lives of children. However, we have been having a few issues of dropouts, but we have initiated mobile vaccinations to close those gaps.
He went on to appeal to the partners to help vaccinators with bicycles in a move to ease their mobility when rolling out vaccination and mobile campaigns.
It should be noted that Upper Nile State is facing an influx of returnees and refugees from neighbouring Sudan due to the ongoing crisis there – this has increased the population and overstretched the humanitarian response. However, UNICEF and partners have pre-positioned supplies and are now delivering health, nutrition, and child protection services to those fleeing the conflict.