SEATTLE, Washington — South Sudan, formally known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a rural and impoverished country landlocked in East-Central Africa. Since gaining independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, South Sudan has worked diligently to rebuild its economy and create a better life for its people. The average challenges that come with stabilizing the economy are maintaining a consistent food supply and protecting the most vulnerable in South Sudan. Taxing makes this possible. However, these challenges are amplified during the fight against COVID-19 in South Sudan.
COVID-19 in South Sudan
The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, is a virus that primarily spreads from person to person through direct or close contact and can be deadly if not treated appropriately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first known case of COVID-19 in South Sudan in April. Currently, there are over 2,000 confirmed cases.
The healthcare system in South Sudan lacks resources and has very limited staffing. Living in a rural community, the South Sudanese people regularly suffer from preventable diseases and scarce healthcare facilities.
South Sudan has a child mortality rate of 69 deaths per 1,000 live births. With travel and movement restrictions in place, maintaining work and daily life is extremely difficult for heavily impoverished communities that rely on labor work to meet their basic needs.
COVID-19 is incredibly contagious and with the unstable conditions in the country from six years of civil war the virus poses an immense threat to all.
Fighting Back Against COVID-19 in South Sudan
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working directly with the South Sudanese health authorities to bring aid to those affected by COVID-19.
The Dr. John Garang Infectious Diseases Unit (IDU), which originally opened in 2018 as part of the Ebola emergency response efforts, was repurposed to meet the current needs of the South Sudanese people. The unit acts as a temperature-controlled dispensing pharmacy and a fully operational laundry facility to control and prevent the spread of the virus.
Staffed by members of the International Medical Corps (IMC) and Ministry of Health clinicians, the IDU retrained their personnel in supportive care for patients affected by COVID-19. The IDU will increase the amount of beds available from 24 to 80, increasing patient intake and available resources. The IDU is also taking measures to separate high-risk patients from other civilians seeking care to ensure that all people receive the medical attention they need.
Hope Amid the Pandemic
While the price of food and access to resources continues to be an issue for the people of South Sudan, the overall economy of the country has seen positive growth. The World Bank reports that the economy has seen a climb of 3.2% between 2018 and 2019, with the current projection for 2020 set to reach 7.9%. This shift brings hope for a consistent economic incline.
Reinvesting this growth into the country’s agricultural lands, service deliveries and healthcare systems will achieve basic life necessities for all South Sudanese people, even amid the pandemic.
– Katie Mote