Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 21 November 2019

South Sudan Health Sector: the untold story

"It is what is unsaid that divides the people" Dr Francis Deng Majok

By Pal Chol

To begin with, Juba Teaching Hospital is the main National Referral Hospital which falls under the jurisdiction of the National Ministry of Health like Malakal and Wau Teaching Hospitals.

The Director-General, the deputy and the Medical Director are appointed through a Ministerial Order. They are accountable to the Under-Secretary who reports to the Minister.

The policies of running the Hospitals come from them, the kingpins of the Ministry. There is nothing that is done without their consent and approval.

The case in point is that the quality of the medical and health services in the main Hospital are minimal because we, more often than not, depend on foreign aids which, even if provided, cannot cover the needs of the local people. Our situation will improve if and only if we shun being spoon-fed in everything and start to realise that it pays to be self-reliant.

The Hospital is still under construction and as such it makes the work not easy. This is what the naysayers translated for doctors and nurses not wanting or refusing to work.

JTH is now staffed with qualified consultants of various medical specialities, General Medical Practitioners and Nurses. The problem is not the man-power but the working conditions and environment.

It is to be recalled that government salaries don’t come on time. The health workers are not immune from the ubiquitous biting economic hardships as the people or the politicians would want to believe.

They have responsibilities to shoulder. They have kids to raise and who want to go to school, they have families to care for; they need moral and material support so that they do their work with zeal and commitment.

Those at the top misconceive that the doctors and the nurses are reluctant to work. This is untrue.

Juba Teaching Hospital was run by only 4 medical officers, three specialists from North Sudan, later two Southern Sudanese specialists and 24 medical assistants before the signing of the CPA. It was supplied and maintained both by the State government answerable to Khartoum and the ICRC and all was well.

The work was good; it shouldn’t be a problem now when we have a legion of consultants and hundreds of well-trained clinicians and nurses in various specialities.
It is all about equipping the hospital and improving the livelihoods of the health workers.

Unless some people somewhere use such rhetorics obliquely intended to dig out where the legs of the doctors and the nurses stand during this crisis.

This loose talk that doctors and nurses are not working but only come and receive the salaries doesn’t hold water at all.

I consider it a storm in a tea-cup.

The same situation is facing all the institutions across the country; that is why there is this hustling outside the workplace to earn a living.

Those who have skills and knowledge with experience resolved to work with the NGOs to raise their families. The health workers, in particular, are the underdogs in this war which has become a lucrative business where some became tycoons praying day and night for it to continue.

The health workers work part-time in private hospitals and clinics to put food on the table. Yet, they still go and offer what is required of them by the public services regulations in the Hospital.

Where is it that the doctors and the nurses are not working?