Saving Lives from Malaria

by Gerry Lynch last modified 23 Jan, 2017 04:13 PM

Salisbury’s Sudan Medical Link provides training and equipment for South Sudan

Alex is ten and lives in a village just an hours drive from Juba. He doesn't go to school as the nearest school is four hours walk away. Alex has suffered with malaria on many occasions. He knows that when the rains start and the puddles begin to collect outside his tukul that he is likely to be bitten again by the mosquitoes and to suffer yet another attack and that the mosquitoes will appear after dark. He cannot remember how many attacks he has suffered but he knows it is many and that he feels weaker after each attack. Sometimes he's lucky and the clinic in the next village has tablets that will help him get better quickly. 

Malaria is the number one killer in South Sudan. It particularly affects children and the elderly. Children become progressively anaemic and susceptible to infections especially chest infections and gastroenteritis. It's very debilitating and children's wards in hospitals are full of babies and children with malaria many of whom require blood transfusions to keep them alive.  

Real progress is being made to find a vaccine for malaria but nothing yet is reliable. One of the biggest break throughs has been with the widespread availability of mosquito nets, especially sprayed with disinfectant to deter the mosquitoes at night when children are most vulnerable. UN resolutions and the benificence of philanthropists have made it their target of having one net per child. Sadly this has not been achieved in South Sudan because of the insecurity and the difficulties with communication and delivery of the nets to the rural and remote areas. 

Many hospitals are not functioning well in rural areas of the country, and drug supplies are intermittent and unreliable. Under five mortality in South Sudan remains, at 1 in 7, one of the highest in the world. One of the major causes of this shocking statistic is malaria.  

The Sudan Medical Link (SML), an offshoot of the 44 year partnership between the Diocese of Salisbury and Anglicans in South Sudan and Sudan, is seeking to address this huge challenge alongside other agencies. They are addressing it on two fronts.  

The first is to provide drugs to treat malaria. Drugs are being brought into the country from Uganda and from other reliable sources. The drugs supplied by the Sudan Medical Link are being delivered to clinics for distribution by trained clinical officers and nurses. Most of the drugs are being delivered to rural areas. There are other unreliable cheap sources of drugs, but our present distributor, Ram, has shown himself to be trustworthy.  

The second front is by training clinical officers, nurses and midwives about the risks of malaria, how best to protect the vulnerable infants and elderly and how to adequately treat those suffering.  

Education is everything and SML provides the money for their three year training. Ten nurses and midwives whose training was paid solely by Salisbury, graduated in Wau in November 2016 and will commence their clinical practice in diverse rural clinics immediately. 

This report is by Dr John Rennie, a retired medic who sits on the Sudan Medical Link Committee and has travelled to South Sudan to support its work. 

Find out more about the Sudan Medical Link and its connections with the Diocese of Salisbury on their page on this website. Alternatively, follow them on Twitter.

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