Barbara Akita at the IMA office in Juba, South Sudan. IMA World Health/Christopher Glass

Daughter of a refugee makes tremendous impact in South Sudan

  • Dec 12, 2013

IMA World Health/ Christopher Glass

Barbara Akita sits at a neat desk while poring through documents for the Rapid Results Health Program (RRHP), a program run by IMA World Health supporting millions of people in the Upper Nile and Jonglei States of South Sudan.

She isn’t a normal 9-5 office dweller. Her journey to IMA has taken many twists and turns, just like many of her South Sudanese colleagues.

Barbara’s father was driven from southern Sudan after fighting erupted in 1962. He found a new life in nearby Uganda, where Barbara was born. Her life took a new turn when her father became the Second secretary of Commerce and supply for the Ugandan embassy in Egypt for a short time (1976-1979); then the family moved to England before eventually returning to Sudan. She graduated from high school in Sudan’s capital of Khartum.

Desiring a career in public health, Barbara went to Nairobi, Kenya, for an undergraduate degree and then on to Switzerland to complete her master’s in international health. She is working on her thesis and will graduate this year.

As an IMA staff member, Barbara currently trains county officials how to effectively track and manage resources for the $26 million project—a vital, yet sometimes overlooked, part of health programs. She also ensures that supplies and medicine are tracked properly and that health officials in each county are properly trained to do their jobs to build a stable and sustainable health system.

“I feel happy seeing myself manage such a great responsibility,” said Barbara.

Barbara’s life has come full circle. It began when war divided Sudan; now the daughter of a refugee has returned to help care for the poor and vulnerable in her father’s birth country.

IMA’s Rapid Results Health Project (RRHP), funded by the World Bank, supports all 284 health facilities in Upper Nile and Jonglei states. Through the work of many like Barbara, the project has helped millions of people and continues to provide essential medicine and medical supplies to hospitals and clinics run by the local County Health Departments.