Amidst War, Collaboration Provides a Lifeline

PQMD Member International Medical Corps Partners With Others to Send Medicines and Supplies to South Sudan

By every measure, life in South Sudan is incredibly hard. Generations of people in the world’s youngest country have never known life without war, and many millions have been displaced due to violence. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but protracted conflict has destroyed basic humanitarian infrastructure, including healthcare, food security, water, sanitation and education. Some 5.3 million South Sudanese are at risk of starvation, and maternal mortality in the country is among the highest in the world.

The facilities IMC are providing inside this POC are very comprehensive and impressive. They see around 6-8,000 patients a month at the clinic. (Photo provided by IHP-UK for use by International Medical Corps)

The lack of infrastructure in South Sudan makes it challenging to keep health facilities adequately stocked. Civilians’ mobility remains limited due to a lack of security; many of them live within “protection of civilian” (POC) displacement camps, where they depend on assistance to survive. People often seek treatment at health clinics only to discover these clinics lack the necessary medications and supplies to treat their conditions—leading to unnecessary suffering and even death.

To address this massive gap, International Health Partners teamed up with International Medical Corps and World Relief in 2018 to improve the health of 400,000 vulnerable women, children and men across seven states in South Sudan by providing essential medical supplies for primary and secondary healthcare facilities.

Funded by TearFund Belgium and implemented by three partner nonprofits, the project also engaged a dozen corporate partners—Accord, Advanz Pharma, Alliance Healthcare, Alliance Pharma, BD Medical, Hydrachem, Janseen CILAG, Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Merck Serono, Pfizer, UCB Pharma and Vitabotics—representing a broad, successful collaboration in a country rife with challenges.

An International Medical Corps doctor treats patients at Mangateen Primary Health Care Center. (Photo courtesy International Medical Corps)

Mangateen, a small village just north of the capital city of Juba, was one of the places that benefitted from this collaboration. In late August 2018, violence forced approximately 7,500 displaced people to relocate out of Juba’s official POC site and onto a small patch of land in Mangateen. The small makeshift settlement with rudimentary infrastructure was intended to be a temporary solution, but remains open months later. Responding to this urgent and unexpected need, in September International Medical Corps established two clinics inside the camp.

Without secured funding for the response, equipping the clinics would have been a major challenge. Luckily, in the same week that the clinics opened, the consortium program provided three shipments of medical aid: nine pallets of bulk medicines and 50 essential health packs with a wide array of key medicines and supplies, totaling more than 198,000 treatments altogether.

International Medical Corps was able to use these shipments to immediately equip both facilities in Mangateen and start treating patients. The facilities continue to provide a lifeline to the people in the camp, treating between 100 to 150 patients a day for such conditions as malaria, diarrheal diseases, respiratory infections, injuries, burns and prenatal care.

Dispensing medicines at Juba PoC (Photo provided by IHP-UK for use by International Medical Corps)

Across South Sudan, the project has so far provided more than 551,000 medical treatments for those in need, with almost 180,000 patients so far benefiting from the donations. Health issues addressed included maternal and child health, infectious and non-infectious diseases, and malnutrition. “We highly appreciate TearFund Belgium, IHP and its partners for providing these essential medicines and supplies to our community,” says Celestine Mernyiang, an International Medical Corps Clinical Officer in Nyal. “These supplies were crucial in providing quality health services to our totally isolated community, as they were the only supplies that we had when we established our mobile medical facility in the area.”

International Medical Corps began working in the conflict-ridden region of South Sudan in 1994 and has since remained amidst ongoing insecurity and volatility to help those in desperate need. Today, we provide healthcare through 87 health facilities in urban and rural areas, along with emergency surgical services in UN POC sites and mobile medical units in isolated areas around Nyal. International Medical Corps also runs programs across the country focusing on nutrition, gender-based violence and mental health. This article was written by Sonia Lowman, Senior Communications Specialist, International Medical Corps