Baltimore, MD (IOCC) For women in Southern Sudan, the risk of dying in childbirth is the highest in the world. More than one out of every 50 women die during childbirth and less than half of all births are attended by a skilled provider. One in ten children dies before their fifth birthday.
Civil wars that have plagued Sudan over the better part of the last fifty years have rendered the health system in Southern Sudan virtually non-existent. According to the Sudan Tribune, in 2004 there were only three surgeons in the region and in some areas there was just one doctor for every 500,000 people. Without access to health care, the people of Southern Sudan face some of the most appalling health and development indicators in the world.
The signing of the Cooperative Peace Agreement in 2005 paved the way for autonomous rule of Southern Sudan and the beginning of the peace process that resulted. In January 2011, the people of Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to form a separate country. Southern Sudan is expected to become an independent country in July.
An important part of the Peace Agreement is a commitment by the government to improve access to basic health care, education, safe water and sanitation. While significant improvements have been made, much of the work to build a functioning health system remains to be done.
Now IOCC, in cooperation with Medical Teams International (MTI), will be providing an estimated $700,000 in medicines and medical supplies to help address some of the health needs in Southern Sudan.
The aid will be delivered to the Christian Health Association of Sudan, which includes the participation of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Sudan, to be used as part of an ongoing community-based maternal health improvement project in Nzara County. The project seeks to address the high maternal mortality rates due to lack of knowledge about safe prenatal care and birthing practices. By providing medical supplies and knowledge, the program will also help mothers who have otherwise been unable to reach health care services in rural areas.
IOCC and its long-time partner MTI have collaborated on numerous projects in the past to deliver medical assistance. Last year, the two organizations teamed up to provide more than $2.8 million in critically-needed medical supplies and medicines following the earthquake in Haiti.
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