Temporary structure, high quality care
When fighting broke out between rival political factions in 2013, legions of families were forced to flee in the face of armed conflict and brutal violence. The United Nations Family Planning Agency started the clinic in 2014 to serve Mingkaman’s sizable population of displaced people.
The UN asked IMA World Health to operate the clinic six months after it began. The unstable environment prompted other agencies to cease operations in the region. IMA stayed. The approach has been to support the government health systems in Lakes and Upper Nile States in operating the clinic, providing management and oversight. Local health workers provide day-to-day sexual and reproductive health services for women and children in a community where an estimated 40% of the population lives in temporary shelters.
Six years into their flight, families still live in makeshift accommodations. Improvised structures are everywhere around Mingkaman, plastic tarps withering under the hot equatorial sun. UN logos are fading from the weathered tarps families stretch across frames of scavenged wood.
The clinic has a similar temporary feel. The tents where patients are treated and medicines are dispensed are showing signs of wear. Designed for only one year of use, now at year six nurses can point with accuracy where leaks have developed.
While plans are underway to construct a more durable facility, patients are discharged mid-day from the primary treatment tent because the heat is too intense to bear. On a recent Wednesday, the tent’s temperature was well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit at noon.
Relief from the heat comes from two Acacia trees in the clinic’s courtyard. They provide shade while women wait in line for prenatal medicines or vaccines for their babies. IV fluid bags are tied to tree branches, providing life-saving medicine to a half-dozen women in recline, suffering the effects of malaria.
“This is our family.”
An experienced midwife, Acheui attributes South Sudan’s lack of medical facilities as a key contributing factor in its prevalent maternal mortality problem.