South Sudanese woman Gero breastfeeding her baby

Easing access to health care services for pregnant women in Boma, South Sudan

When 32-year-old Gero arrived at Boma Hospital, South Sudan on 14th April 2022 she was exhausted after a 50-kilometer walk from her village of Marwo. Gero was 33 weeks pregnant when she first visited the hospital, with on and off bleeding. After examination, it was found her placenta was covering the cervix, which required urgent medical attention and observation to preserve not only her own life but also that of her unborn child.

CARE-supported Boma Hospital located in Boma County, Greater Pibor is the only facility with Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn CARE services in the area.  However, access to health care services remains a major challenge for most. Dr. Justin Joseph, a doctor at the Boma Hospital notes; “Some of the mothers find it difficult to access health services during rainy seasons due to the distance, and some mothers don’t come for routine review which puts their life and that of the baby at risk.”

Filled with anxiety Gero asks, “Do you think the operation can be done here and will my baby be safe?” Gero had all the rights to worry because Boma Hospital, like several health centers, was initially not well equipped and staffed to handle cases such as what she presented. Gero was not convinced that such an operation could be done in Boma Hospital as the facility had until recently not been able to provide such services, until the renovation of its operating theatre.

The Boma Hospital theatre had just recently been renovated, equipped, and stocked with medical supplies as a result Gero was quickly admitted to the hospital for close monitoring as her condition deteriorated to severe bleeding. This led the medical team to conduct an emergency C-section. The procedure was a success and on 4th May 2022, Gero gave birth to a healthy baby boy of 2.7 Kilograms (5.6 pounds). “I don't know what could have happened to my baby and me if the bleeding had occurred while I was at home,” said a grateful Gero.

Limited access to healthcare facilities and medical supplies in South Sudan has resulted in high numbers of preventable deaths from severe malnutrition and maternal mortality. This lack has resulted in some of the worst health indicators concerning child mortality, with a rate of 78 deaths per 1000 live births.

As part of CARE’s health strategy to strengthen the health care system in South Sudan, we respond to public health emergencies through mobile clinics and Rapid Response teams. This enables us to reach and address critical acute health emergencies across the country with an emphasis on supporting women and children. In Greater Pibor, CARE is implementing the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Services Project (CERHSP) in Boma County funded by the World bank through UNICEF and in Consortium with Livewell organization.

The project is mainly focusing on Covid-19 prevention and vaccination, maternal and child health including EPI routing and outreaches including the Boma Health Initiative program in 4 bomas of Boma County. Since May last year, CARE has reached more than 95,000 with CARE-supported health services in Boma.