Mother’s Day: Cherished but not celebrated in South Sudan

  • May 8, 2016


others around the world have different colors of skin, speak different languages and differ in their cultural roles, but they have one thing in common: their hopes and dreams for their children.

Although Mother’s Day is not celebrated in South Sudan, the mothers there still deserve recognition. These mothers want their children to be healthy, to have a good education and to live a better life. IMA helps the dreams of South Sudanese mothers become a reality.

It starts with their pregnancy. IMA, with funding from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and the United Nations Population Fund, provides antenatal care to pregnant women who have been displaced due to the current conflict. Some of our services include check-ups by trained midwives, iron/folic acid supplements, testing (and treatment where necessary) for HIV/AIDS, malaria prophylaxis, safe delivery kits and delivery in a health facility by qualified midwives, complete with a dose of misoprostol to prevent postpartum bleeding.

Mary and her newborn

Mary and her newborn

Mary’s husband, a soldier, was stationed near one of the IMA clinics in Upper Nile. She was pregnant with their fifth child. Like most mothers in South Sudan, she delivered her baby at home without a trained health person. Following delivery, she started bleeding heavily. One of her family members ran to the clinic to get midwife Mary William. Mary came and administered oxytocin and also initiated uterine massage and early breastfeeding. “If this clinic had not been close to us and if they had not had the medicine I needed to stop the bleeding, I might have died,” Mary said. “I am happy the staff was there to help me. Thank you.”

Following birth, children receive routine immunizations and treatment if they are ill. If they are malnourished, they also receive supplemental feedings.

Gatkor Maet

Gatkor Maet after two weeks of treatment

In the stabilization center in Jiech, Gatkor Maet, weighing about 11 pounds, was admitted with severe acute malnutrition. He was showing signs of dehydration, hypoglycemia, severe respiratory distress and malaria.

The mother was referred from the Wai OTP site, a six-hour walk from the Jiech Stabilization Center. During their stay at the center, their vital signs (temperature, pulse and weight) were monitored daily and the boy received therapeutic formula milk in addition to other medical management.

To support and encourage mothers with sick children, support groups consisting of mothers have been formed and trained with simple health, nutrition and hygiene messages. The leaders are often mothers whose children were malnourished and have been treated at the various centers. Due to the conflict, many families have been separated and so their traditional support systems are gone.

Support Group

Support group consisting of mothers

Mothers in South Sudan are praying that peace will come to their young nation and that they and their children will be able to return home, and to start rebuilding their lives and their nation. And when they do, IMA will be there to support them in health and nutrition.


Nancy McGaughey
Reproductive Health and Nutrition Advisor, IMA World Health