World Vision experts reflect on the impact of climate change on South Sudan’s health system and the risks faced by millions – South Sudan
How is climate change making South Sudan’s dire situation worse? As a country where around 75% of child mortality is attributed to preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, the link is very clear, said Hailu Badhane, Greater Bahr El Ghazal zonal program manager of WorldVision. One impacts the other and leaves a suffering population.
Badhane adds: “Climatic conditions exacerbate health problems as they create an environment conducive to disease during floods and other natural disasters. Add to this the reality of the limited number of health workers and the lack of access to health services that are badly needed in South Sudan.
Juba Nutrition’s project manager, Komakech Mandela, assisted Badhane. “During the dry season, people don’t have enough drinking water, which leads to an increased incidence of illnesses such as diarrhoea, especially among children. World Vision community volunteers do their best to educate people on water and sanitation practices,” he says.
The 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview highlighted that 5.5 million people, including 52% of these children, need to access services. The report states that “South Sudan’s weakened health system is highly dependent on international humanitarian assistance and is still unable to cope with and respond to humanitarian emergencies and deliver essential life-saving health services.”
In 2021, World Vision health initiatives in South Sudan supported 112 government health facilities and two mobile outreach clinics in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH). More than 551,609 children were able to benefit from curative consultations and 12,689 women benefited from prenatal services.
While these projects were staffed by 100 staff with the support of 1,700 staff seconded from the Department of Health, Director of Health and Nutrition Stephen Epiu said one of the biggest challenges is the shortage of trained health workers in natural and man-made disasters, from floods to displacement. to communal conflicts.
Epiu says: “We need to train more personnel capable of responding to urgent health needs in emergencies, but at the same time we must also advocate for peace and invest more in programs that counter or treat the effects of global warming. “.
“I would like to emphasize that the lack of access to health services is a serious threat to the health of children. Many facilities are not fully equipped, lack medicines and professional health workers. Women and children travel long distances to access services and are often exposed to protection threats such as rape, kidnapping and even murder,” adds Advocacy and Protection Officer Betty Adong.
“Pregnant mothers suffer from anemia and pregnancy-related complications due to a lack of vitamins in the body that support the development of the fetus, thus leading to premature births or miscarriages. One mother told me that their food intake is based on quantity and what is available rather than quality,” she adds.
This echoes UNICEF’s call for “increased investment in climate adaptation and resilience in key services for children.” To protect children, communities and the most vulnerable from the worst impacts of the already changing climate, essential services must be adapted, including water, sanitation and hygiene systems, health and education services. .
“While it may be taken for granted in many developed countries, proximity to health facilities can mean a lot to women and children. If easily accessible, women are empowered to make reproductive health choices, children can be treated in a safe environment, and the mortality rate can be reduced or even avoided altogether,” Adong concludes. .
On World Health Day, we envision the children of South Sudan growing up healthy, safe from the dangers of climate hazards and becoming productive citizens. We have a long way to go, but nothing is impossible if we do it together.
By Cecile LaguardiaSenior Advocacy and Communications Officer