Sustainable and equitable primary health care

South Sudan, independent since July 2011, is among the poorest countries in the world. The long civil war left the country with little or no infrastructure and impacted heavily the country’s ability to address its development needs. Despite the progresses made by the newly formed Republic, especially in establishing ministries and institutions, only modest development has taken place. 

From a health perspective the population outcomes score very low and South Sudan has some of the worst health indicators of the world: being born in South Sudan today means having an estimated life expectancy of 62 years. Children have more than 1 chance out of 10 of dying before the age of 5. There is an extremely high maternal mortality (estimated at over 2000/100.000 live births) and a lack of primary schools (a 15 years old South Sudanese girl has a higher chance of dying from a pregnancy related cause, than of completing school).

Accessibility, sustainability and quality
The lack of quality primary health care services is one of the major challenges South Sudan has to face, if it wants to ensure a steady development to its rapidly growing population. Women and girls are especially at risk. Since July 2013 HealthNet works in partnership with the South Sudan Ministry of Health to provide and improve primary health services in three counties. Through these three projects HealthNet aims to improve the accessibility, sustainability and quality of health services.

Key elements of the project:

a) Provide essential primary health services and increase access and utilisation of these services that are particularly responsive to the needs of women and children (supply side);

b) Strengthen the health system at a national, state and county level, as they will take over the role of NGOs in the future (sustainability interventions);

c) Increase community participation, utilisation and demand for health services (demand side).

Activities and results include: 

  • All health centres have improved their provision of preventive and curative primary health services.
  • Mobile antenatal care and vaccination outreaches are being carried out in the counties’ remote areas.
  • The referral system for emergencies is in the process of being strengthened
  • Most common diseases and health risks are better diagnosed and treated.
  • The health system is currently being strengthened under the stewardship of the County Health Departments. Key capacity building areas are human resources management, health management information systems, procurement of medical supplies, health financing and governance and leadership.
  • All facilities have functioning Health Committees. These are the link between communities and authorities and provide feedback on the quality of health services.