South Sudan: the role of women in capacity building
Aluel Garang Tong is 32 years old and mother of six children. As a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) she assists midwifes in the Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC) of Mayen Ulem, province of Aweil North, Republic of South Sudan. Aluel only speaks her local language, so we needed the help of one of the health workers to translate.
Aluel started working for Health Works in 2013. As part of Health Works’ capacity building programme, she was trained in Gok Machar in doing birth deliveries. Although a volunteer, Aluel will be trained further and given the opportunity to gain more experience. An important part of her work is community sensitization and mobilisation. She visits the pregnant women in the communities and explains to them what advantages they will experience if they deliver their baby in a PHCC instead of their home.
“I gather the pregnant women and we sit together; I tell them that there is an old, traditional way of giving birth, but now there is also a new and better way in the health facility. In the beginning the women did not accept this, but slowly the acceptance came. A few times things went wrong with deliveries in the community and women nearly died because of heavy blood-loss. In the PHCC this is going much better. The word is spreading around more and more and now the PHCC is full.”
Aluel is interested in becoming a midwife, as she knows already most, if not all, ins and outs of this profession. As she also has to take care of her six kids, combining family with extra studies and work is difficult. Nevertheless, she continues with the capacity building programme and is now also receiving training from Rose Eio Modi.
Rose is 49 years old and mother of four children. She was originally trained as a nurse in Juba and started working for Health Works in 2009 as a Capacity Building Coordinator. She was later given the position of Sexual & Reproductive Health Advisor and is currently working as the Mother & Child Health Advisor for our projects in the counties of Raja, Aweil North and Aweil West. She regularly visits the PHCC where Aluel is working. Next to Aluel, Rose has trained 60 other TBA’s in Aweil North, Raja and Wau and 102 health workers in Raja, Aweil North, Aweil West and Wau on birth preparedness and PPH (Post Partum Haemorrhage, bleeding after birth), by using a special drug called Misoprostol. Other trainings given by Rose are BEmONC (Basic Emergency Obstetric and New-born Care), HIV, infection prevention and Family Planning.
The capacity building of TBA’s and health workers adds to the increase of patients visiting the PHCC. This number is particularly increasing for patients coming for the first antenatal care visits. However, the long-term, sustainable goal is to increase the number of patients that are giving birth at the health facility in order to minimize the health complications at childbirth such as postpartum bleeding.
In order to do so, Health Works has recently renovated the maternity ward of the PHCC, after a storm had destroyed the roof. Arrangements are made to open the maternity, in presence of the provincial health authorities and continue to provide these primary health services.
 There were 24 heavy blood loss cases registered only in the second half of 2017 for the community living close by the PHCC in Mayen Ulem.