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Thirteen South Sudanese health workers have returned home with the training to save the lives of women and children in their community.
South Sudan has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world, so IMA World Health joined forces with the local Ministry of Health to address significant health-care issues in the country. The Emergency Obstetrical Care (EmOC) program was formed to give health care trainees the education to help pregnant women and their newborns before, after and during labor.
Roughly 90% of women deliver unassisted without trained personnel. As you can imagine, the slightest complication can prove fatal. Thus, the program was born.
Recognizing the urgency of the medical crisis in South Sudan, IMA World Health and the Great Lakes University of Kisumu in Kenya obtained funding from the US Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to train South Sudanese clinical officers in an intensive course on emergency obstetric care.
The nine-month course taught the critical knowledge and skills necessary for safe vaginal delivery, management of post-partum hemorrhage, treatment of toxemia and other critical interventions for saving lives and welcoming new life into the world.
However, the biggest challenge – convincing women and their spouses that delivering at the facility is better than birthing at home – lies ahead. Home-birthing is an enormous cultural norm. Thus, one major goal is to raise awareness about the value in coming to a clinic.
“We learned how to protect the mother. We need to run workshops,” said Ojuok Puok Duel, EmOC student. “We need to engage (women) to come before delivery to help them understand why it is safer to deliver (in a facility) than at home.”
The group graduated on June 30th and returned to South Sudan in time to celebrate their country’s first year of independence on July 9th. Their success and accomplishments will only enhance the country’s future.
While the students studied, five centers (where the graduates will work) were renovated and equipped with ultrasound machines, solar lighting, supplies, Safe Motherhood Kits™ and much more.
“(Women) need mosquito nets and Safe Motherhood Kits™ to protect them and their babies. If they have the kit, there will be clean, sterile materials, which will prevent disease and infection,” said Ojuok Puok Duel.
After spending nearly a year away from their community the students were ready to return home and start using their new skills.
“IMA should be proud. Just wait and see what happens! We are very motivated to go back and help our communities,” said Gatwech Kun Chol, EmOC graduate.
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