Contributor's Nhial Gatkuoth Chung Opinion

Opinion: South Sudan health system has been crumbling for years under SPLM led government

– the current pandemic tells us where to start

By Nhial Gatkuoth Chung,

Accra- Ghana,

South Sudan former Minister of Health, Dr. Riek Gai Kok, speaks to media(Photo: file/supplued/Nyamilepedia)
South Sudan former Minister of Health, Dr. Riek Gai Kok, speaks to media(Photo: file/supplued/Nyamilepedia)

April 07, 2020(Nyamilepedia)South Sudan gained her independence from Sudan in 2011 after South Sudanese overwhelmingly voted for sovereign state through public plebiscite that gave them the right to choose between the separation and united Sudan, the independence declaration was cheerfully received with high prospects from all South Sudanese who casted their votes to decide their political destiny of having their own country. 

They wholeheartedly voted for a country where they will be the first class citizen, a country where their shattered hopes will be rebuilt through service delivery that they never had before under the Khartoum repressive regime. 

 By the time SPLM (the current ruling party) took over the leadership of the then Southern Sudan government (GOSS) in 2005, millions of dollars was poured in by the donors communities across the globe to help South Sudan to develop establishment policies, build the infrastructures of the new nation, and to strengthen the institutions that were neglected by Arabs during the civil protracted civil strife, health system, education, governance, human resources development and other public necessities were not put in place.

Instead of investing the money donated by the donors in public projects like schools, roads, health facilities and the clean drinking water, regrettably, the elites embarked on known inglorious corruption spree in which millions of dollars got lost in their hands and no single official was brought to book for stealing public money since 2005 till today, those that have been accused of misappropriation of public funds are still holding public offices a sign that was seen by many South Sudan as continuation of looting 

The weak institutions inherited from Arab were not strengthened, South Sudan was not connected with road networks, no hospitals or health centers were built by the current regime, most of the primary health centers/ units are being run by non-governmental organizations 

South Sudan was a real hunting ground for them, they (leaders) took their families abroad where they are attending the best and prestigious schools, getting treatment from modern health centers and living luxurious life abroad leaving the poor south Sudanese to paddle their own canoes in the middle of nowhere.

Is South Sudan ready to combat the current coronavirus pandemic?

South Sudan health indicators show that, the country has the highest under 5 mortality rate in the world from preventable diseases, almost half of children born in South Sudan die before their fifth birthday, the country was also statistically said to have the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, our women loss their lives during and after delivery due to lack of modern health facilities and well trained health professionals.

 The immunization coverage in the country is very limited especially in the rural areas due to inaccessibility and the insecurity that the country is facing.  All those indicators tell you exactly about the status of the health system in the country

Most of the government mega projects that were successfully put in place were built by the foreign firms using the money donated by their host countries like China that has lifted the face of Juba teaching hospital (JTH) infrastructure, Juba- Nimule road was built by the American (USAID). The current electrical power grid that is powering Juba city was built and is being run by the foreign company. Practically, south Sudan government has not built a single public project since its assumption to the leadership in the country.

What are the priorities of the revitalized government of national unity?

As the new government has been formed, South Sudanese are still asking many questions about the programs of the new government during transitional period, the government development plans have not been made public since the cabinet was sworn in.

With the current covid19 pandemic that is challenging the world most advanced health systems, this virus is posing a great challenge to the countries with weak and crippled health system like South Sudan, frontline health workers (doctors and nurses) have not been given necessary training and protective equipment to fight the covid19 pandemic in the country in which two confirmed cases have been declared so far.

South Sudanese have no hope for the future as their lives only depend on supernatural intervention. There are no well-equipped hospitals in the entire country, Juba teaching hospital is the only referral hospital that that is available inform of physical buildings but has no modern medical equipment, doctors, nurses and other paramedic have left their jobs in most government health facilities due to lack of motivation and good pay

There are only five ventilators in the entire country according to the deputy chairman high level taskforce on covid19 Dr. Riek Machar. 

A South Sudanese who was said to be severely sick was flown to Kenya but rejected by the Kenya government and this is a very good sign from Kenya, South Sudan leaders have miserably failed to build their own hospitals but opted to seek treatment abroad when they are sick.

It’s time for the government of South Sudan to look into real issues by putting public projects as a priority, the money that was spent on the senseless war would have been used for public amenities.

Government needs to put more resources in health sectors in order to strengthen our health system in the country. 

South Sudanese need well-equipped hospitals, good road networks, schools, clean drinking and security.

May God bless South Sudan

The author, Nhial Gatkuoth Chung, is a South Sudan student studying in Ghana. He can be reached for more information through his email at nhialnyarok@gmail.com

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