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South Sudan's "Year of Starvation"

by Michael Ford last modified 03 Jul, 2021 12:18 AM

Many people across the Diocese have long supported and contributed to the work of the Sudan Medical Link, part of our Salisbury-Sudans Link, through both prayer and financial support.

John Simmons, Chair of the SML Committee, writes:

The aim of the SML is to provide medicines to the Episcopal Church of South Sudan clinics and to fund training for suitably qualified Christian students (identified by the Bishop in that Diocese) to become clinical officer, nurses, midwives and laboratory assistants.

A core part of the work of the SML is to facilitate the flow of basic medicines to treat conditions such as pneumonia, malaria, arthritis, and tropical infections. Without these essential drugs, the work of nurses, midwives and clinical officers would be extremely limited. Under normal circumstances, core deliveries of medical supplies and drugs are flown in three times a year.

The needs of South Sudan have inevitably become more intense with the global Covid-19 pandemic. With an underfunded healthcare system and a limited number of doctors and nurses, South Sudan was already threatened by malaria and cholera.

The closure of borders has led to hardship and the lack of basic essential foodstuffs and medicines, as most of these are imported. 55% of the population are facing severe food shortages.

The local population call 2021 "the year of starvation" after widespread floods in 2019 and 2020. UN peacekeepers remain in situ, protecting civilians and supporting the peace process.

Whilst the numbers of coronavirus cases have been limited (testing is not yet universally available), the health authorities in South Sudan have said that they have vaccinated more than 16,000 people against Covid-19 (June 2021).

South Sudan has a population of 13 million. Currently South Sudan has 52,000 vaccine doses from Covax to use before they expire on 18 July. There is a threat that some schools may close as they have been found not to have hand washing facilities and class sizes do not easily support social distancing.

We are more optimistic about the opportunities for developing primary care in South Sudan than before because of your support and for the additional reasons:
• three year funding to take on additional new students for training has been allocated by Bishop Holtam. Currently we have seven students in training at Maridi Health Training Institute and six at Mary Help College in Wau.
• Individuals have generously donated personal funding to support training of specific students.
• Fees have reduced meaningfully in two of the colleges we commission places from.
• We have managed to continue to supply drugs and medical supplies to 11 clinics that we support using a competitive tendering process. The second consignment for 2021 has recently been delivered.
• Fundraising activity is now supported by a small team.
• Leadership and medical support for SML has been strengthened.

How can we work together to increase our reach and support in South Sudan?

Sadly, the Covid crisis makes the possibility of visits from the SML Team this year seem remote. These visits help generate a true sense of partnership and provide opportunities for mutual prayer support as well as a recognised quality assurance element in terms of student training and drug provision. We are using technology to link more and are hopeful that visits will resume in 2022. (These visits are self-funded).

Would you be interested in being more involved? For example - it would be really helpful to have a practicing midwife join the SML Team. Please feel free to contact Anne Salter on if you are interested and would like to discuss further.

Meanwhile we have two events planned for 2021:
1. A Garden Party on Sunday afternoon 5th September in the South Canonry. Bishop Anthony Poggo from Lambeth Palace has agreed to be present.
2. A Soiree at Cranborne Manor on Wednesday 8th September supported by Lord Cranborne. You are especially invited to join this evening in the gardens of Cranborne Manor. [see here]<

Here is part of a letter from Rev Tito Maridi who as many of you know is also an excellent clinical officer and runs a very efficient Primary Care Clinic:

“We are very grateful for you all and the beloved brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Salisbury. And are doing very well in the Bethsaida Clinic. So let’s continue to be in touch and above all in PRAYERS."

Prayer for the Link between the Diocese of Salisbury and the Episcopal Church of Sudan

Father of all, before the Throne of Grace we remember the people of the Sudan
Give us the heart to feel
for those who wander the World
seeking a home
to call their own.

Give us the mind to strengthen
those who feed the hungry
clothe the naked
welcome the stranger.

Give us the spirit to pray
for those who walk
in the valley
of the shadow of death.

May all the nations obey you
all the peoples who love you
and the whole earth rejoice in you.
Father, Son and Spirit.

Read the full letter here.

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