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Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta

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News Archive

South Sudan: New Republic Faces Daunting Challenges Malteser International Builds Up Health care structures, Qualifies Professionals

Jul 8, 2011

Juba/Cologne. With its independence day on 9 July fast approaching, South Sudan is about to become Africa’s youngest nation. As the South Sudanese people start shaping their new country, Malteser International, the relief service of the Order of Malta for worldwide humanitarian aid, will continue to help them along the way to a better future.

One of the ways the organisation is supporting the new country is by training and qualifying medical staff. After 21 years of civil war, South Sudan is now faced with daunting challenges as it builds up its own government – and that is especially true when it comes to the health care system.

“The know-how, the structures and resources which are required for a comprehensive public health system are missing. Skilled personnel are hard to find”, says Jan Kleinheisterkamp, country coordinator for Malteser International in South Sudan. “That’s why we focus on qualifying medical staff with a variety of educational programmes – a task which should later be the responsibility of the competent local authorities. We want to not only improve health care in South Sudan but also to enable both the state and the population to continue developing the health care system sustainably.”

In its laboratory school in Rumbek, Malteser International has instructed lab technicians and lab assistants since 2002. Until now, 55 students have successfully completed the two-year programme. “The selection of the students from all regions of South Sudan is made in close coordination with the South Sudanese government. It makes sense that students from as many regions as possible are represented when they go into the job market”, explains Kleinheisterkamp.

Stephen Duku from Yei received his state-recognised diploma last June. “I decided to join the programme so that I can save the people of Sudan, because there are so many diseases but only few medical personnel”, he says. The laboratory in Rumbek serves as a referral lab for more than 330,000 people. “Our long-term goal is to hand over responsibility for the school to government authorities at some point”, says Kleinheisterkamp.

In order to help build up a functioning health care system, Malteser International also organises trainings for state employees on the local level. Over the past weeks, 25 staff members from the local health authority in Maridi have taken a course on family planning and health management. In addition, the Malteser International teams in Yei, Rumbek and Maridi train volunteers to become peer educators, who inform communities and villages about diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and leprosy and explain the importance of early testing and diagnosis.

Malteser International has already been working to improve health in South Sudan for 15 years. The organisation currently counts on 10 international and around 120 local staff on site and has been active in various health-related fields – from combatting leprosy, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and sleeping sickness to improving maternal and child health.

Attention Editors:
Jan Kleinheisterkamp, country coordinator for Malteser International in South Sudan, is available for interviews. Contact through Malteser International’s headquarters at +49 (0) 221 98 22-169

Photos from South Sudan are available for download from our media library.

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