Strengthening the Health Systems for the delivery of life-saving basic services in South Sudan
Juba: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) signed the Phase II agreement of the Health System Strengthening grant with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on 15 November 2012. Under the accord, the Global Fund will disburse US$27 million over the next three years for the refurbishment of ante natal clinics, maternity wards, laboratories, blood banks, and health training institutes for nurses, midwives and laboratory technicians in South Sudan.
In a country that has been ravaged by more than two decades of civil war resulting in the destruction of physical and social infrastructure and loss of skilled manpower, the health system strengthening grant presents an opportunity for the newly independent nation to address key challenges related to public health, delivery of quality health services and institutional functioning as defined in its Health Sector Development Plan.
As Principal Recipient of the Global Fund since 2004, UNDP has supported the Government of South Sudan to deliver HIV, TB and Malaria services while strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Health by administering resources to construct needed infrastructure. UNDP has supported the Government in building seven ante-natal clinics, four laboratories, three maternity wards, three monitoring and evaluation facilities, three community resource centres, two blood banks and two teaching institutions.
However, the impact of the Global Fund programme, managed by UNDP’s programme goes beyond simply refurbishment of facilities. The grant also finances the development of a skilled health workforce, improved access to safe and effective drugs, and strengthening of the existing health information system, thus making a vital contribution to improving the health of the population and ultimately the potential of people to live better lives and contribute to their communities. “With support from the Global Fund, UNDP has partnered with Government in the fight against TB, Malaria and HIV” stated Balázs Horváth, Country Director. “This support is essential for training midwives and nurses to help address the world’s highest maternal mortality rate and work towards fostering healthy communities; it will also contribute toward further building government capacity in the health sector.”
South Sudan has the highest Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in the world, estimated at 2,054/100,000 live births. Although close to 46.7% of pregnant women attend at least one antenatal care visit, only 14.7% of deliveries are attended by skilled health professionals. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people are living with HIV, but only about 3,000 people are accessing ARVs. The Global Fund currently is the only source of funding to address HIV and the major source of funding for health services to fight TB and Malaria in the country. This grant will also support the delivery of services including for HIV, TB and Malaria.