Amref Health Africa doctors step in to ease surgical burden in Juba

Following the ceasefire agreement signed on January 23, 2014, thousands of people have flooded hospitals across South Sudan in search of medical care.  Five of the seven wards at Juba Teaching Hospital are occupied by victims of the recent political unrest that began on December 15. Over 4, 500 patients have been treated for gunshot wounds since then.

A response team from Amref Health Africa arrived in Juba early this week to assist with the huge number of casualties at the Juba Hospital and the UNMIS (United Nations Missions in Sudan) camp, many of whom require surgical care. The country’s hospitals do not have enough personnel, equipment or supplies to cope with this demand. Dr James Alfonse is one of the two orthopaedic surgeons in the hospital. “We have 110 patients waiting to be operated on, but with just two of us and not enough equipment and supplies, progress is slow. I can only operate on five patients in one day because I also have to do consultations and make ward visits. It is overwhelming.”

Maluk Achiek - gun-shot victim

Maluk Achiek - gun-shot victim

Maluk Achiek, a soldier based in Yei County, Central Equatoria, was wounded when he and a group of colleagues were ambushed by soldiers who had defected from government’s Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement. ‘‘Bullets were flying all around us. I was shot twice in the arm. Many of the soldiers I was with died.  I have been at the Juba Hospital since January 13, two weeks ago, and still I have not had surgery. But this morning, a nurse told me that Amref doctors are here so I will have my operation tomorrow.’’ 

The areas most affected by the recent violence, caused by rivalry between two army factions, are Bor, Bentiu and Malaka.

Abraham Ayuen with his father

Abraham Ayuen with his father

Abraham Ayuen brought his father to Juba from Bor, 200km away, with a gunshot wound in his leg. “Rival groups of soldiers started fighting at the military barracks in Bor, but the shooting poured out of the barracks as the rival groups chased each other through the village where my family lives.  Three of my uncles were shot in their compound and when my father came out to help them, he was shot too. Unfortunately, all my uncles were killed, but their wives and children managed to run away; we found them later in the UNMIS compound. In total, I lost 45 relatives and friends in that attack. I managed to bring my father to Juba with the help of UNMIS. He is in a lot of pain and he needs surgery, but there are too many people who also require operations. Now we have hope that he will get the surgery soon because I was told that the Amref doctors have come.”  

Amref Health Africa's clinical outreach programme has been operating in 14 hospitals in the 10 states of South Sudan since 2012.