S. Sudan risk full-blown health crisis if donors pull out, warns minister

S. Sudan risk full-blown health crisis if donors pull out, warns minister
Workers offload a consignment of drugs in Bor State Hospital, Jonglei State. Upper Nile region is facing drug shortage. [Bolice Mayar, City Review]

The government is incapable of procuring essential drugs, national minister of health, Yolanda Awel Deng, has warned.

Awel said the ministry is financially incapacitated and cannot stock the hospitals with essential medical drugs at the moment.

“As I speak now, South Sudan does not procure any single emergency drug for our population,” Awel said.

She stated that most of the drugs being used in public healthcare facilities are often procured by health partners and other donors.

The minister expressed concern that if donors stop funding, the country would face a severe drug shortage.

“It was done by the Health Pooled Fund, and they (the fund) withdrew those services due to funding cuts,” she explained.

She made the remarks in her presentation during the sixth Governors Forum on Wednesday.

“The ministry of the health budget was reduced instead of increased.  It was reduced to barely four per cent of the country’s budget,” she protested.  

The minister said that service delivery in the field of health has taken a serious hit due to the scarcity of resources.

She went on to say that some of the challenges her ministry faces are a lack of health information dissemination and effective monitoring of service delivery, including the use of data.

“It is not only [about us] sitting in the offices to be told you did not do this you did not do that we do not have adequate resources to deliver it.”

“Ministry of the health budget is still under 4 per cent so government at the national and state levels should allocate additional funding to scale up and adequately equip the health sector for delivering basic health services,” Awel said.

However, she said despite the numerous challenges, the ministry of health was still on the right track.

“Ministry of health and the health sector, in general, are on the right path of service delivery. We are embarking on international regulations, rules, and guidance, such as equity for all and the long-term goal of system strengthening by 2030,” she said. 

South Sudan relies heavily on donor funds and intervention measures by the partners such as non-governmental organisations to advance health services to the people. However, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the wave of attacks on healthcare workers in some parts of the country has worked against the strides made in the sector.

“These threats compound an already challenging situation and further complicate efforts to deliver more effective and impactful healthcare support to the people of South Sudan,” noted IRC in a press statement issued yesterday.