All eyes are on the East African nation of Sudan as it prepares to cast a vote that could turn its southern and northern regions into two separate countries. But, regardless of the vote's outcome, Sudan faces many health care challenges that it will have to overcome in order to provide a better standard of living to its people.
The town of Juba, which would become part of the new Southern Sudan if the vote passes, faces a dire lack of medical supplies and facilities to treat patients. Drinking tainted water results in diarrheal diseases for many, and 30 percent of South Sudanese residents have no access to health care whatsoever.
The limited health care services that are available are run by charities like the Catholic church or by the United Nations. Those clinics lack basic supplies like anaesthesia and stethoscopes, and people often walk miles to reach them only to wait for hours for attention.
Analysts say that if South Sudan separates from the North, money that had previously been allocated for funding the military will go toward building a better health care system. But, for now, health care workers are focusing on bringing three simple things to the Sudanese people: education, better nutrition, and simple drugs.
"If you look at it by the numbers, it paints quite a grim picture. Maternal and infant mortality are among the highest in the world. Vaccination coverage is among the lowest for children and pregnant women. It's a very sad picture." - Kate Morris, Program Manager, Catholic Relief Services
"Independence will mean a lot of development coming in, a lot of health care system improving, because the fact the money that go for security will have been put in development, the special health care system." - Dr. Justin Bruno, Al Sabah Hospital
1. Where is Sudan?
2. What do you think are the essentials of a good health care system?
3. What parts of the world have inadequate health care systems? Why do you think providing good health care is difficult in those regions?
1. According to the video, how will the referendum to be held on Jan. 9 affect the future of South Sudan’s health care system?
2. Based on what you saw in the video, what are the major challenges facing health care workers who are trying to set up a good health care system in South Sudan? Where do you think they should start to reach the most people? Why?
3. What might be the problem with relying on outside relief workers to provide health care in South Sudan? What resources would South Sudan need to get its own workforce of medical professionals?