In spite of the turbulent beginning of the year, Amref Health Africa continues to consolidate its position as one of the leading international public health, not-for-profit organisations, supporting the government and people of South Sudan in responding to the humanitarian crisis that befell the country, following the December 15, 2013 fighting that started in Juba and spread to other states; while at the same time investing in the strengthening of health systems and interventions for sustainable health outcomes in this nascent African state badly affected by conflict .
This is buttressed on our commitment of striving to ensure that every South Sudanese child and woman enjoys the right to good health by helping to create vibrant networks of informed and empowered communities that work with the formal health care system as active participants in health promotion, disease prevention and community based treatment and care service delivery.
Although the year has been challenging due to the December 2013 crisis, our programming remained integral, balancing between emergency response and health systems strengthening for sustainable health sector development. We focused our programming on strengthening of maternal and child health, control of communicable diseases, water sanitation and hygiene promotion, specialized medical, surgical and diagnostic outreach service delivery and health system. The focus was on stewardship, human resources for health and strengthening community systems. We also strengthened the health management information systems through the generation of evidence for influencing policy and practice.
With support from our donors, the government and various stakeholders, we work with, we have been able to make remarkable achievements in 2014.
The country programme portfolio grew from 12 projects to 19 worth US$7. 5 million from US$4. 5 million in the previous year; with an increase in the number of staff from 80 to 124 in the year in review.
The achievements of this year are best reflected in our various projects:
Through clinical and surgical outreach project, interventions supported by Total Foundation and Amref Health Africa in Spain in eight hospitals across the country, 2,570 consultations were carried out, 800 operations were done while 2,000 post trauma counselling services were provided for patients suffering from gunshot wounds. The soldiers at the frontline during the shooting and ordinary citizens who were caught in the cross fire were the most beneficiaries of the programme.
The cholera outbreak in May 2014 was a big challenge to the government and its partners. Amref Health Africa supported the Ministry of Health in setting up the first ever bacteriological reference laboratory that has the capacity to confirm cases of cholera within the county; with support from WHO.
Under the cholera emergency response project funded by GIZ, we have hired and seconded a senior microbiologist expert from Kenya who trained over 20 South Sudanese laboratory technicians in parasitology and bacteriology at the National Referral Laboratory. This capacity building intervention will continue up to July 2015. Sixty home health promoters were trained and they managed to reach 3,000 homesteads in Lobonok Payam with hygiene promotion and health messages to help curb the spread of cholera in Juba County, in collaboration with the county health department and the state’s Ministry of Health.
Twenty five health workers were trained on ICCM/IMCI, 32 vaccinators trained for EPI services, 20 on Focused ANC, 20 in basic family planning methods and infection control resulting in scale up of maternal and child health services in Rego Payam of Terekeka County, with support from Sanofi and Cartier Foundation and Amref Health Africa in France.
As we head towards the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals, our struggle to ensure that South Sudan’s maternal mortality rate reduces, is through the training of midwives. At Maridi National Health Science Institute, we have trained and graduated 18 Enrolled Midwives and 101 Community Midwives, 437 Clinical Officers and 15 Public Health Officers. By the end of November 2015, the institution hopes to honour 25 Registered Midwives, 26 Enrolled Midwives and 41 Clinical Officers as graduates.
Let me also bring to your attention that in July 2014 Amref Health Africa was able to establish its first ever National Advisory Council (NAC) chaired by Associate Professor Festus Abdelaziz James. The Advisory Council will not only guide the Senior Management Team on policy and strategy matters, but also in resource mobilization and implementation of the business plan, and also play a critical role in improving the relationship between Amref Health Africa in South Sudan and the stakeholders it deals with.
We were also delighted to host the Director General Dr Teguest Guerma. During her visit, she held meetings with the Director of International Health of the Ministry of Health, the UNFPA country representative and Head of Office of UN-OCHA, among others.
Despite these achievements, challenges ahead remain enormous. The scale up of the work of Amref Health Africa in South Sudan requires funding to ensure full implementation of our programmes. I therefore encourage corporate companies working in the country as well as individuals, to give back to the communities through corporate social responsibility. There is no social responsibility that touches the community than investing in their health.
In conclusion, in the next five years, we are looking forward to increasing our programme portfolio with a phased expansion of our programme interventions and field offices across the ten states of South Sudan with Juba Country Office playing a co-ordination role.
However, to be able to effectively deliver and fully implement this, Amref Health Africa in South Sudan needs up to US$50 million. To reach this target; the strategic plan is to have a US$10 million increment per annum.
At the moment Amref Health Africa in South Sudan is running a budget of up to US$6. 2 million. We put the donor funds into good use as we change lives of the people of South Sudan thanks to our strong financial management system and dedicated staff, coupled with our dynamic policies and tradition of transparency and honesty.
I wish to sincerely thank our International Board, National Advisory Council, the Corporate Executive Committee, my Senior Management Team and all the staff for their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm throughout 2014 that enabled us to achieve the results highlighted above.
Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan for caring about the health of its people. I sincerely appreciate the state government officials as well as the county health departments for creating an enabling environment for us to work in.
The communities within which we operate have also been supportive of our projects. Our covenant of transforming the lives of the people of South Sudan through better health would be impossible without them. This message would be incomplete without mentioning the contribution that our donors make towards the implementation of our programmes. In fact, they are the heartbeat of our programmes. I would therefore like to appreciate their contribution towards the health of the people of South Sudan.
I wish you all a prosperous 2015. May God bless South Sudan.
Dr George Bhoka.
Amref Health Africa, South Sudan.