By Dr Jok Gang, Opinion.
The South Sudanese war began in 1955 at the time when people of the region began to feel lack of representation in the government and therefore absence of the crucial services in the region. Struggle continued with many agreements signed and abrogated by the Sudenese government and as a result, many rebellions in sequence broke out in the region till 1983 when the final struggle led by SPLM/ SPLA broke out to end after 21 years with the signing of the CPA in 2005 which led 6 years later to the referendum and independent South Sudan on the 9th of July 2011.
Throughout these struggles for services, many lives were lost, children orphaned, women widowed, others starved to death or subjected and succumbed to treatable diseases, properties destroyed, many youth who got opportunity for education left it to join the rebellions, others left for internally displaced and refugee camps in the neighboring countries to continue their education. Few of these youth struggled harder to study Medicine and other medical and health sciences thinking that by the end of the war with independent southern region, they will manage to make change by delivering one of the many undelivered services of which the war is being fought for – the health care services.
Beginning from 2005 with implementation of the CPA and formation of the autonomous self-govenanance of the region through the by then Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), some of these medical trained sons and daughters of South Sudan returned to the region to provide health services while others searched for opportunities and specialized in different medical specialties. The younger ones joined medical schools in bigger number
By 2011, after independence, the three South Sudan Universities transferred back from Khartoum and many of these doctors who went outside the country came to deliver the services their beloved people were dreaming of and many lives Lost for during the time of struggles.
Since the Ministry of health was established as a continuation of the previous Ministry of health of the defunct Southern States Coordination Council, those who came earlier before 2011 and interested in administrative work joined to work at the ministry headquarters, others continued clinical and administrative works in other facilities of the mean ministry outside the headquarters.
The College of Medicine of the University of Juba continued to operate under these medical specialists to produce significant numbers of doctors, to be followed years later by that of Bahar elghazal with the Upper Nile preparing behind. Some of the doctors who joined politics came to supervise the political activities of the Ministry as ministers of health for certain times to be relieved with some leaving behind little achievements and their names on the list of the ministers of health in the history, while others left tremendous and tangible changes in the health infrastructures and system.
The ministry witnessed accomplishment of some crucial projects including Kiir Mayardiit Women Hospital, Alcardinal Kidney Center, Dr John Garang Infectious Diseases Unit, College of Physicians and Surgeons of South Sudan (CPS), Public Health Laboratory and Blood Bank, Modernization of Juba Teaching Hospital, Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery and many other projects. The South Sudan General Medical Council and South Sudan Doctors’s Union as well many other specialized societies were established. Some doctors and other health providers sent for specialty training in different countries , while CPS inaugurated to provide clinical associates and specialty training in Obstetrics and gynecology and general surgery as a starting point, to be followed later by other specialties. Many of these projects accomplished by the Ministry of health through partnerships.
While the medical and health future began to appear brighter to many young health care professionals and to the new nation, time came to be longer in the offices for many doctors administratively managing the affairs of the MoH and experience began to accumulate, but to the wrong direction. Some of them began to acquire the feelings and behaviors of bosses and began to apply the policy of oppression on their fellow colleagues working within and outside the headquarters of the Ministry. Hatred and bitterness began to grow faster and higher with some who feel the heaviness of their colleagues on their necks started to migrate and immigrate in search for a green pasture with less or free stress of fellow colleagues. The migration and immigration of these heavy weight health professionals, on top of the economical crisis in the country, imposed negative impact on the health services in the facilities of the ministry. This led to the significant deterioration that can not be questioned by any sound minded witness. The level of training of the newly graduated doctors ( the house officers / interns), clinical officers and associates clinicians experiences a significant gap. The seems to be a brighter future in health sectors began to become gloomy and uncertain to the young ones. Hopelessness and uncertainty took control of their thought. Self and family care becomes the main interest and the only dream they could dream to fulfill.
Now with the coming of the worldwide disaster and human life threat of the COVID-19, people thought reconciliation is going to get a place at all levels for the sake of mankind survival from the threat of this lethal virus. This has never been the case in the health community of the Republic of South Sudan. Instead, the administrators tried to get alternative to their professionals and the most experienced ones by leading the fight in conjunction with the country’s political leadership and handing over the affairs of Infectious Diseases Unit and therefore the lives of our beloved people to the NGOs ran by foreigners of unknown qualifications. Coronavirus pandemic is being face by our people with administrative and clinical mismanagement resulting in what every South Sudanese is familiar with today. The feeling of being an angel on earth couldn’t allow most of the South Sudanese doctors open their mouths to speak out louder their bitter but true inner feelings. They choose to watch in silence and bear the pain of what they witness. The voice of doctors’ Union falls in deaf ears due to lack of strong support from behind and from the above.
For how long should suffering be the only future of our beloved people? Did the coronavirus pandemic not come to change the world’s health system or are we not part of this world?
I think there is no golden time other than the current one where a South Sudanese health professional will stand tall in a broad day light to break the silence by addressing his/her grievances to the public and the highest authorities of the country. While the sacrifice of the fallen heroes and heroines brought this country in to existence, it remains an inevitable responsibility on the necks of the living ones to pay them back by delivering this nation out of the current uncalled for situation. Our voice holds magic that can rescue a collapsing situation if we come together to speak it out loudly.
FOR HOW LONG SHOULD WE REMAIN VICTIMS OF OUR SILENCE?
(The views expressed herein are Dr.’s and do not represent Ramciel Broadcasting’s)