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South Sudan Health and Maternal Care Project


In May of 2012, Medical Directors Dan Crothers and Dr. Charles Radis, traveled to the Kit River region of South Sudan to coordinate the training of l6 traditional birth attendants. Although these women are responsible for nearly 900 deliveries each year in the nearby villages of Nyolo, Ayii, Kuwait, and Aroo, none had previously received formal medical training. With only a dozen obstetricians in South Sudan and a small number of midwives, the training of traditional birth attendants is critical if South Sudan is to improve delivery outcomes. It is an unfortunate statistic that the United Nations Population Fund has declared that South Sudan’s maternal mortality is the worst in the world.

ASERELA is fortunate to have Robert Owot Ambrose year-round in South Sudan. As ASERELA’s Operations Director he was able to lay the ground-work for a successful trip. This required close coordination with the County Health Commission in Magwi, our partners at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and the chiefs of the local villages. By the time Dan and Dr. Chuck arrived with our South Sudanese trainers, innumerable details had been taken care of: Our l6 trainees were housed and fed in ASERELA’s school in Nyolo, the chiefs were on hand for our opening ceremony, transportation coordinated, and meetings with health officials scheduled.

The training was an overwhelming success. The majority of our trainees were not literate and while some spoke English, Acholi and Arabic were the primary language for others. Fortunately, our interpreters were fluent in the local languages and the program was pictorial. The women were trained on and provided with a commodity back-pack of reusable equipment to assist them in safer deliveries. To reinforce the daily lessons the birth attendants often sang and danced the lessons as a group.

ASERELA thanks all who contributed to this health mission trip, as well Dr. Radis, Dan Crothers, Robert Awot Ambrose, and Massachusetts General Hospital for their commitment to improving maternal health in Nyolo/Kit.