January 3, 2012 – UPDATE: Due to ongoing tribal conflict in Jonglei, South Sudan, International Medical Corps treated 87 casualties over the weekend at the Walgak Clinic. All received emergency treatment for their injuries with 12 severe cases being evacuated to Juba for advanced care.
December 30, 2011 – Over the Christmas weekend, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) air patrols identified an armed ethnic group in Jonglei state preparing to attack another local community. Due to ongoing ethnic violence in the past few months in Jonglei, UNMISS urged the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) to quickly take measures to protect civilians. To efficiently manage a possible influx of casualties, International Medical Corps immediately began disaster preparedness measures in local hospitals.
Conflict has long-affected Sudan, with civil wars spanning the last 50 years. Although the Republic of South Sudan became a sovereign state in July, conflict among ethnic groups continues, resulting in increased emergency medical needs in a country where there is a severe shortage of health care workers. International Medical Corps has been working in South Sudan for more than a decade, focusing on health care and integrated service provision via clinics, hospitals, and mobile medical units.
To serve possible casualties of ethnic violence in Akobo County in Jonglei, our local teams, in coordination with the local Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization, began disaster preparedness activities this week at Akobo Hospital. The International Medical Corps-supported hospital has 54 beds, 186 health staff and comprehensive surgical capacity. To manage additional emergency cases our local teams worked quickly to augment existing medical and surgical capacity with the following:
- Setting up and training staff on a triage system in the emergency room
- Supplying adequate surgical equipment for dressing wounds, amputations and other emergency procedures
- Prepositioning 100 war-wounded kits in the emergency and operating rooms
- Training support staff in record-keeping of all casualties for accurate reporting to appropriate health authorities.
“These swift emergency preparedness activities are part of a comprehensive Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan implemented by International Medical Corps and the local MoH to cater to displaced populations as a result of man-made emergencies in Akobo district,” said Dr. Alemayehu, Chief Surgeon and International Medical Corps Site Manager in Akobo County.
Our local teams have also implemented the same Disaster Preparedness strategy in neighboring Walgak County, to serve additional communities that may be involved in the conflict. The Walgak Comprehensive Health Center and another International Medical Corps-supported comprehensive primary health care clinic in Walgak are now also prepared to treat casualties if needed.
“The civil authorities and the local MOH, with technical and logistical support from International Medical Corps, are prepared for any medical and surgical contingency triggered by clan fighting in Jonglei State,”’ said Mr. Boakai International Medical Corps Site Manager in Walgak County.
From preventive and primary health care to emergency surgery, International Medical Corps provides direct medical care to thousands in South Sudan. True to our mission to enable self-reliance, International Medical Corps also trains communities and mid-level health professionals to ensure program sustainability and positive change in the health sector.