Laketch Teshome wakes up every morning at 7am to go to work in Yambio Hospital, Gbudwe State. Every day, she meets her South Sudanese medical team at the maternity section, or as she calls them, her twins.
“At 8.30, we are all cleaning the maternity delivery ward. We prepare all the equipment to receive the patients, which it is actually not much, because this hospital lacks basic material. Sometimes, we don’t even have a paper to write down the prescriptions for the mothers”, she explains.
Laketch is a midwife professional from Ethiopia who, based in Yambio, tries to improve the South Sudanese health system. She is one of the Civil Service Support Officers (CSSOs) participating in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Republic of South Sudan (RSS) joint programme, which aim is to provide capacity building at human resource, organizational and institutional levels by seconding and placing civil servants from IGAD Member States, within national ministries, commissions and state-level local government. The CSSOs serve as rapid capacity enhancement support and are “twinned" with South Sudanese civil servants in essential sectors such as finance; local government; health, education and vocational training; access to justice; and trade among others. UNDP South Sudan manages the programme and targets the right functional and technical capacities at national, state and county levels.
“The most common case that we face in the hospital is mothers suffering from [pre-birth bleeding]. I am training the South Sudanese nurses to become midwives and now they are able to determine the baby’s health state and prep the mothers for an urgent operation if it is needed”, affirms Laketch.
Yambio, with 152,000 people is a predominately agricultural area with a lot of potential for development. The civil war in the country and the central government financial problems have increased the tensions between tribes in the area and have truncated the growth prospects of the region.
“The South Sudanese nurses that I am training did not receive a salary for the last five months. Some of my colleagues from the RSS/IGAD project working in other areas have to face the absenteeism of their twins, who are not getting paid for months. I am very lucky since my four twins are very motivated. They put a lot of effort to learn and assist mothers, even though there are days that they don’t even have money to pay the bus to go to the hospital and they come by foot”, she said.
The maternity section of Yambio Hospital receives every day around 20 to 50 child births and post-natal cases. According to a UNFPA Report, midwives can prevent up to 90 percent of maternal deaths where they are authorized to practice their competencies and play a full role during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth.
“Some mothers deliver their babies at home and after they come to the hospital mainly because they have had problems during the delivery such as infections, haemorrhaging or obstructed births”, declares Laketch.
The CSSOs sign a two-year contract with RSS, and are assigned to government structures as civil servants to coach and mentor their South Sudanese counterparts so that after this time their trainees are able to perform their duties by themselves.
“I feel I am doing a valuable contribution. Every week I do training for all 14 staff in my section and I see the improvement of their performance in a daily base. I am sure when I leave after 2 years they will be capable to manage to assist mothers that go to Yambio hospital asking for help”, Laketch concludes.
Funded by the Government of Norway, the RSS/IGAD Regional Initiative has already deployed 199 officials to 22 national and state institutions across South Sudan during its Phase I. The second phase started last August, and now saw 102 CSSOs deployed to 15 national, 27 state and 3 counties institutions. By the end of 2016, 139 total CSSOs will be deployed.