We work with partners across South Sudan’s health system to respond to challenges so that women, children, and families can access safe and equitable health care.
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. It is a young country with a young population: 73 percent of people are under 30, and 42 percent are under 15.1 Since gaining independence, South Sudan has been working to improve its health care system. But civil war has stalled progress: high rates of sexual violence, attacks on civilians by government and rebel forces, and a failed peace agreement have greatly affected the health and livelihood of the population. Consequently, less than half of the population in South Sudan can access health facilities and services, contributing to high rates of maternal and child death.2
In South Sudan, MOMENTUM works with the Ministry of Health, local partners, and community leaders to improve the health of mothers and children and to strengthen the resilience of the country’s health system. This support includes mitigating the impact of COVID-19, tackling gender inequality, expanding access to voluntary family planning, and improving health care for mothers, newborns, and children.
Building Health Resilience
Challenges since independence have resulted in significant, ongoing shocks and stresses to South Sudan’s health system. MOMENTUM works with the Government of South Sudan and local organizations to increase the health resilience of individuals, households, communities, and the health system to better prepare for, mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses with minimal disruptions to high-quality health care. We use GOAL’s Analysis of the Resilience of Communities to Disasters (ARC-D) tool to assess health resilience and tailor approaches that address the specific issues that affect South Sudan’s health system.
Reducing the Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant additional stress on South Sudan’s health system. MOMENTUM works with local partners to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to adapt programs and approaches so that basic health services continue to reach women and children during the pandemic. To help South Sudan respond to COVID-19 and prepare for future outbreaks, we help train health workers on the use of personal protective equipment, infection prevention and control measures, case monitoring, and additional preventative measures, such as social distancing. We also help develop messages that promote healthy behaviors and prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities.
Tackling Gender Inequality to Improve Women’s Health and Eliminate Gender-Based Violence
South Sudanese women and girls face considerable barriers to accessing and using health services, including early marriage and childbearing, and limited freedom to make their own health decisions. We work with our partners to implement USAID’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy to tackle some of the root causes of gender inequality so that South Sudanese women and girls can better access voluntary family planning and reproductive health care.
The gender-related barriers that women and girls face contribute to high rates of gender-based violence in South Sudan; one out of two South Sudanese women has experienced intimate partner violence in her lifetime.3 In addition to our work on gender inequality, we also collaborate with communities to transform harmful social norms that contribute to gender-based violence.
Expanding Access to Voluntary Family Planning
In South Sudan, the use of family planning is low—only 3 percent of women use a modern method of contraception4—in part because women lack access to quality health services and products. MOMENTUM works to expand access to family planning in South Sudan by integrating family planning services into maternal and child health care. We collaborate with community health workers to teach women how to use the injectable contraceptive DMPA-SC (subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, brand name Sayana® Press) on their own so that they can use it at home, minimizing the need to travel to health facilities.
Keeping Mothers and Children Healthy
South Sudan has high newborn and child death rates; almost 37,000 children under the age of five died in 2019, nearly half before they had completed their first month of life.5 Together with local partners, we promote respectful, client- and family-centered care for mothers and children to address these deaths and the illnesses that cause them, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria.
To help mothers and their babies stay healthy during and immediately after childbirth, we work with community health programs to distribute misoprostol, a drug that can prevent and treat postpartum hemorrhage, and chlorhexidine, an antiseptic used to clean umbilical cords. We also partner with community health workers to prepare them to be aware of the signs that a mother or child’s health might be at risk so they can provide appropriate services or refer them for emergency care.
MOMENTUM Integrated Health Resilience is working in South Sudan to build health resilience, respond to COVID-19, tackle gender inequities and gender-based violence, increase access to family planning, and promote maternal and child health care.
- United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1. https://population.un.org/wpp/
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 2021. “UNFPA South Sudan.” https://www.unfpa.org/data/transparency-portal/unfpa-south-sudan.
- UNICEF South Sudan Country Office. 2019. Gender-Based Violence. https://www.unicef.org/southsudan/media/2071/file/UNICEF-South-Sudan-GBV-Briefing-Note-Aug-2019.pdf.
- Family Planning 2030. 2020. “South Sudan.” https://www.familyplanning2020.org/south-sudan.
- UNICEF. 2017. “Country Profiles: South Sudan.”