Henry Gibudu, from the peace village was there to oversee as six hospital mattresses and other supplies are unloaded from the plane and placed onto the roof of the Peace Village’s Land Cruiser for the short trip to the clinic. Henry explained that the supplies are urgently needed as the hospital has several inpatients with malaria, parasitic disease which is prevalent during the rainy season and can be serious if not treated quickly. The clinic is the only source of healthcare available to local Toposa people thronging the airstrip. The onlookers watch with interest as the bulky items emerging out of the plane’s cargo.
‘The team saw 404 outpatients and 115 inpatients in August. Malaria, typhoid and Urinary Tract infections were the main presenting issues,’ reports HTPV’s Gabe Hurrisha. ‘Each of the inpatients patient stayed on average five days and many came back for follow-up consultations. The clinic is attending to three disabled children and one person is being referred to Kapoeta for cleft palate surgery. The medical team will have a surgical campaign in September.
Although the clinic is also set up to provide maternity services Gabe explains that many women are reluctant to give up the traditional practise of giving birth at home. ‘There were no births seen at the clinic August with most women delivering at home. The midwives tell me that the Toposa women prefer to deliver in their kraals. Sometimes they use a traditional birth attendant (TBA) who may or may not be very good. ’
Tragically, South Sudan has some of the highest rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality in the world with South Sudan has some of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world with 956·8 deaths per 100,000 births in 2013 which are expected to remain high in the foreseeable future. In line with this, complications such as long and obstructed labour can result in debilitating obstetric fistulas for the mother and conditions such as cerebral palsy for the child. Both conditions cause lifelong disabilities, stigma and ongoing medical needs. Delivering in the clinics leads to far better outcomes for both mother and child.
There is hope that outcomes will improve over time. Thanks to support from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), the services at the clinic continue to grow and in August a nurse and a midwife joined the clinic team, bringing the staff to eight. The clinicians are putting the instruments and apparatus, flown in by MAF to good use. The small MAF plane continues to be a welcome sight at Kuron airstrip, landing several times a month to bring in staff, visitors and freight. ‘MAF is very dear to us and has always given us excellent flight charter services,’ Henry says.