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South Sudan: malnutrition rising as fighting continues in world's newest nation

09-07-2012 News Footage Ref. AV021N1

On 9 July 2012, South Sudan celebrates its first year of independence. However, becoming the world's newest country has not brought an end to the years of armed conflict. An ill-defined border as well as internal ethnic tension can quickly trigger fighting. The wounded and sick struggle to get treatment as access to basic health care is very difficult.

Story

On 9 July 2012, South Sudan celebrates its first year of independence. However, becoming the world's newest country has not brought an end to the years of armed conflict. An ill-defined border as well as internal ethnic tension can quickly trigger fighting. The wounded and sick struggle to get treatment as access to basic health care is very difficult.

The latest fighting around the northern border with Sudan escalated in April. It has had a direct impact on the health of this fledgling nation. Dr Georgio Monti is a consultant paediatrician who has worked at Malakal Teaching hospital since January. He has seen the affect of fighting on young South Sudanese after the border closed preventing food reaching the market, and causing price hikes. "We immediately saw an increase in malnourished babies in the centre," he says.

The ICRC has been working in Malakal hospital for one year and has seen the situation deteriorate. Hospital admissions are up 30 to 40 % compared to 12 months ago, and with an even greater increase over the past three months. The medical team also reported that patients are arriving in a much worse condition.
Malakal has the highest number of Kala Azar cases in the world, a disease which can cause death within six months. Spread by fly bites, it affects malnourished babies, and is very hard to detect in the first 4 weeks of infection. Malnourished children are particularly vulnerable to the main childhood killers: pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea.

Bakhita Khamis is 28 years old and her daughter, Achol, is five. Achol has been ill for a month with typhoid and malaria. Two more of Bakhita's children have died through illness.

"The day before we planned to bring my daughter to the hospital she died. My other child was alive for four days after I gave birth, and then she started to cry. She died on the way here."

For a population of nearly 9 million people, there are only 120 medical doctors and just over 100 registered nurses. Vulnerable groups like women, children and the wounded are particularly at risk: South Sudan records the highest maternal mortality in the world.

Dr Monti explains how difficult it is to do his job: "We have no power 24 hours a day, we have no radiology. We have enough drugs, but even the supply of drugs is not easy. And the big problem is the lack of education, lack of education in doctors, as we don't have a university. We don't have a medical school here and we don't have a school for nurses."

 

Shotlist

0:00 Various of Malakal market

0:23 Exteriors of Malakal hospital

0:38 Various of sick babies

01:04 Various of young sick woman being treated by Dr Monti

01:14 CU woman watching

01:18 CU Dr Monti

01:21 Wide of young sick woman being treated by Dr Monti

01:25 CU of baby with tube in arm

01:32 Bakhita Khamis sitting with baby

01:36 SOUNDBITE: Bakhita Khamis (Arabic)

"The day before we planned to bring my daughter to the hospital she died. My other child was alive for four days after I gave birth, and then she started to cry. She died on the way here."

01:56 Dr Monti working with patients and medical team

02:11 CU sick woman

02:13 CU sick baby

02:17 Medical worker treating patients

02:22 Patient with babies

02:26 Crying babies

02:30 Silhouette of women

02:35 Dr Monti with patients

02:42 SOUNDBITE: Dr Georgio Monti, Paediatrican, ICRC (English)

"Unfortunately in the last three months there was some problem here just 20 kilometres north at the border when they started fighting again and immediately they closed the border that means there is no food in the market, the few food we have is expensive, and we immediately saw an increasing in number of the number of malnourished baby in the centre."

03:10 SOUNDBITE: Dr Georgio Monti, Paediatrican, ICRC (English)

"That political and dramatic situation next to the border is one of the one of the most important reason of the situation of the children in this place. So I'm used to saying: the victim of the war are not just the soldiers, but the victims of the war are children, are women."

03:34 SOUNDBITE 1: Dr Georgio Monti, Paediatrican, ICRC (English)

"We have no power 24 hours a day, we have no good lab, we have no radiology, we have enough drugs, but even the supply of drugs is not easy. And the big problem is the lack of education, lack of education in doctors, as we don't have a university, we don't have a medical school here and we don't have a school for nurses."

03:59 END


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  • Copyright: ICRC access all
  • Release year: 2012
  • Production locations: Malakal, South Sudan
  • Running time: 3'59"
  • Languages available: Arabic, English
  • Reference: AV021N1

Format: Mpeg2 / 16:9 anamorphic / SD