In 2019, MAGNA in South Sudan focused on projects for the health of mothers and children, reproductive health, and nutrition.
In the Duk Pagaak area of Duk County, Jonglei state, we set up a stabilization centre, primary health care centre, and mobile unit.
Before MAGNA’s intervention, health and nutrition services in Duk Pagaak did not exist at all. Pregnant women and children would walk over 6 hours from Duk Pagaak to Duk Padiet to access health and nutrition care. Moreover their journeying to get health care was subject to great risk to their safety. Quick health and nutrition research that a MAGNA team undertook with the local district health office in February 2018 revealed an influx of people from neighbouring districts (such as the Ayod area) to Duk Pagaak, further increasing numbers of the internally displaces and the burden on existing facilities where MAGNA has been providing care.
The situation in the country
The long-term impact of South Sudan’s civil war have brought about one of the world’s largest comprehensive humanitarian crises. 7.1 million people required humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019. The conflict has displaced 4.2 million people, 2.2 million internally and 2 million as refugees from neighbouring countries. Throughout the conflict the main factors causing a worsening of the situation and increased numbers of the displaced are violence and low security, local and inter-ethnic conflict, theft of herds associated with murder, rape, and plunder, scarce access to basic services, an almost complete absence of health facilities, high incidence of poverty, constant food shortage for more than half the population and the threat of famine, and limited possibilities for earning a living. As of early 2019 almost 6.1 million people in South Sudan (approximately 54% of the population) were suffering from severe food insecurity.
Around 4,472,000 of South Sudan’s inhabitants had no access to sufficient health care in 2019. The country, which was formed in 2011, has an almost completely non-functioning health care system, because of the enduring civil war and a lack of infrastructure.
The country is totally dependent on international humanitarian aid. Foreign NGOs operate over three quarters of all health facilities, and only about one fifth of all the country’s facilities are fully functional.
In response to the acute malnutrition threatening the lives of many children in Duk county, MAGNA has introduced preventive, screening and therapeutic procedures to treat moderate to severe acute malnutrition for the most vulnerable population groups: children aged 6 - 59 months and pregnant and nursing women. We focused on severe acute malnutrition (SAM), with our activity consisting of such community work as MUAC screening by community health workers, Vitamin A supplements and deworming, out-patient treatment, and hospitalization for the most serious cases. SAM is the most extreme kind of malnutrition, placing children in danger of dying at a rate nine times higher than among their healthy peers.
We also continued in improving access to health care for the most vulnerable population groups, by focusing on the main causes for disease and death. In setting up programs we use an integrated approach, improving the community’s access to quality health and nutrition care by creating a well-structured functioning team focused on the most vulnerable areas in Duk Pagaak. This both enabled us to decrease the distance and time needed to reach health and nutrition services and improved the overall response to the population’s needs. We helped reinforce health workers’ ability to provide quality health services through professional preparation based on competencies making possible improved human resources quality for more sustainable health care.
MAGNA further helped the affected population by providing primary health care and increasing preparation for epidemic outbreaks, concentrating mainly on the internally displaced, and girls, boys, men, and women affected by the conflicts. MAGNA provided health and nutrition aid in a primary health care centre in Pagaak and Tindir and with the support of a mobile team.
Health personnel provided treatment and therapy to all patients, including children under 5 with severe and moderate acute malnutrition and health complications. Screening was done in the community, and individuals found to be malnourished were sent to out-patient care for medical and nutritional examinations. Nutritional activities are an important part of comprehensive health interventions in this area. At the end of 2019, the situation in Duk Pagaak county was considered one of the most serious in all South Sudan, when Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis found that catastrophic flooding meant that Duk Pagaak was in the second-worst phase, and around 40,000 people in South Sudan were in the famine phase, particularly in the counties of Akobo, Duk and Ayod in Jonglei.
The MAGNA medical team concentrated on treating the most frequent diseases of malaria, diarrhoea, and respiratory and skin infections, the most common cause of death among children under 5.
The MAGNA facility in Duk Pagaak also facilitated safe births attended by professional health workers, with many births taking place at home under supervision by qualified community birthing workers.
MAGNA has been working in South Sudan since 2011.
ACTIVITIES IN NUMBERS
MALNOURISHED CHILDREN IN NUTRITION PROGRAMS
HEALTH WORKERS TRAINED
In 2019 MAGNA expended € 584,225 in South Sudan on operating health programs and humanitarian assistance.