National, News

State hospitals face unpreceded crisis

By Bida Elly David


Some state ministers of health have decried numerous challenges that are currently facing the health sector in their respective states.

Among the most pressing issues that have been emphasized are drug shortages, which have been causing significant problems for patients who require medication to manage their conditions.

In addition, there have also been reports of depreciated health facilities that are in urgent need of repair and modernization, as well as a lack of mobility that is making it difficult for health workers to reach some of the more remote areas where people need medical assistance.

These concerns were raised on Monday during the opening of a workshop organized by the Ministry of Health on the transformation of the health sector across the country.

The three-year pilot project is aimed at mitigating the health constraints facing the most affected states across South Sudan.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Dr. Simon Chol Mialith, health minister of Ruweng Administrative Area, said the majority of citizens, especially in Upper Nile, suffer severely as the rainy season nears.

“The majority of our health facilities are inaccessible, although some citizens get access to some of them,” he said.

He said every year, the rate of snake bites and environmental hazards as a result of oil pollution increases, making it risky for the local communities.

“Two weeks ago, we had a child born with a congenital defect where all the intestines are outside, and a lot of other things are also happening,” he stated. “So, we have environmental pollution-related diseases that come in terms of skin diseases.”

He noted that most health facilities have run short of drugs due to the high demand for medication by the vulnerable population.

“The other thing that I think was also a problem and shouldn’t be a problem this time is drug procurement. There have been delays in delivering drugs to facilities,” he noted.

He added that prepositioning drugs at the moment is critical and should be corrected to avoid mistakes that originated in the past.

Dr. Simon underscored that “health facilities” shut down simply because there are no drugs for patients to use to diagnose their complications.

He said the ministry is facing the challenge of training health workers as well as sourcing qualified staff to work in the health facilities due to a lack of funding from partners and the government.

Minister Simon noted that they initially tried attaching medical staff from the Health Pool Fund (HPF) to work within the public facility to curb service challenges due to a lack of qualified staff and funding.

He said Ruweng Administrative Areas have attached over 300 medical staff to the public hospital, including HPF staff, despite the withdrawal of funds.

According to Simon, several health facilities were shut down due to insecurity in the area, among others.

“Some of the facilities got themselves on the front lines, so populations were displaced, and some of these facilities were also destroyed.

He mentioned Colonial Primary Healthcare Centre (PHCC) and Akoldit PHCC, among other facilities, being destroyed during the conflict.

“For now, we have seven that are not working, but we have 21 functioning health facilities across the area,” he cited.

He accounted for the lack of good infrastructure as one of the additional challenges to medical service delivery.

“There are no roads in the majority of the areas where we are operating. So once it comes to rain season, we always find it difficult to transport preposition drugs to some of these locations,” he said.

He demanded the national government earmark support for the administrative area over the health shortage.

“We have been using human beings to transport this on their heads. And when we carry drugs on the head, it’s not healthy, and it’s also not enough to cut up for the service,” he said.

“Another key challenge we have is that the area is completely affected by this oil pollution.

“We have these snake bites on the island swamp as well as areas of rowing that fall into that. So other crop diseases also come up in dry and rainy seasons,” he said.

Dr. Jacob Akouchpiir, the minister of health in Lake State, stated that his state is battling climate change problems, especially in Rumbek North.

“Rumbek North is 75 miles from Rumbek, which is the capital. They suffer during the rainy season from various diseases,” he said.

Dr. Jacob said the government faces difficulty reaching them from May up to January due to poor roads and insecurity.

He noted that the citizens there face a severe need for medical assistance as most of them live in remote areas.

“We need a county hospital in Rumbek North in the centre to treat the population; we also need other government stakeholders like the ministry of transport and bridges to construct roads to ease mobility because it is hard to reach those people,” he stated.

For his part, Kai Riak Kheithon, Unity State Minister of Health, said Panyijar County, Unity State, is battling a serious medical crisis.

“Hospitals in that county since 2010 have had inconsistent medical funds; they take most of the referrals to the state hospital, which is far away,” he said.

Minister Kai said it has always been challenging for patients trekking from the county to the state hospital, Bentiu.

He urged the national government to speed up the health transformation project to curb the health challenges facing them.

Rose Obede Bara, the director general at the Western Equatoria State Ministry of Health, said her state is not exceptional when it comes to a lack of healthcare funding.

She said that due to a shortage of medicines, patients are forced to go and buy medicines from private clinics with the little money they are supposed to use for feeding.

She urged the national government for quick intervention before the rainy season begins, which most often comes with increased health concerns.

The ministers criticised the national government against delays in the execution of the project.

Meanwhile, Yolanda Awel, the national minister of health, promised the state health ministers that the project would fix the medical gaps.


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