Southern Sudan: Health Cluster preparedness for returnees to Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal
Over the past three months, approximately 50 000 Southern Sudanese have returned to Northern Bahr El Ghazal. About 70% of them have decided to settle in Aweil, the state capital, and other county capitals, making the provision of basic services essential. More returnees are expected to arrive in the coming months which will increase the need to scale up the provision of services.
There are currently about 143 000 returnees settled across the ten states of Southern Sudan.
The results of the referendum for self-determination conducted from 9 to 15 January 2011 are expected to be released in the first week of February with preliminary results supporting secession of Southern Sudan.
The following activities have been conducted so far:
- Preparedness by the Health Cluster: A team from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and WHO, led by the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Undersecretary for the MoH and the WHO Representative in Sudan, visited Aweil on 13 January to assess the health situation in returnees’ settlements. One of the camps visited was Apada camp which accommodates approximately 8000 returnees.
- Prepositioning of supplies: In Aweil’s State MoH, WHO prepositioned three emergency health kits providing health supplies for 30 000 people for 3 months, two diarrhoeal disease kits, three surgical kits, medicines and consumables as well as measles vaccines for the vaccination campaign that will take place during the next four months.
- Prevention of outbreaks: Vaccination campaigns are ongoing in settlements and communicable disease surveillance has also been activated in communities and IDP settlements.
- Provision of basic primary health care services: The State MoH, supported by WHO, is coordinating the provision of health services and supplies with partners such as MSF-France, the International Rescue Committee, Concern, the International Organization for Migration and UNICEF. The state hospital reinforced its capacity to respond to mass casualties events resulting from incidents of violence following the referendum.
Aweil, like other parts of Southern Sudan, is experiencing health service delivery gaps at the primary and secondary levels due to a lack in human resources, distribution and management of drugs, medical equipment and supplies and inadequate infrastructure of health facilities. The lack of human resources was discussed in a meeting with the GoSS/MoH who requested WHO’s support in the development of training institutions and curricula in order to scale up the human resource capacity of the MoH. This will also be an integral part of the National Strategic Health Development Plan which will focus on strengthening leadership and governance in the health sector and improving Southern Sudan’s health service delivery.