Healthcare project helps people in South Sudan

April 19, 2013 • Africa • Calgary Herald

Partnership between Samaritan's Purse Canada, University of Calgary, Canadian International Development Agency

Written by Mario Toneguzzi
Published by Calgary Herald on Friday, April 19, 2013

CALGARY-For the past few years, Samaritan’s Purse Canada, the University of Calgary, and the Canadian International Development Agency teamed up to provide much-needed medical facilities and training in southern Sudan.

The $3-million project, Southern Sudan Healthcare Accessibility, Rehabilitation and Education (SSHARE), helped repair or expand several medical facilities and provided education for doctors and medical personnel working there.

“It is incredibly rewarding to know that the South Sudanese physicians who took part in the University of Calgary medical upgrading program in 2006 have now returned home, and are playing key roles in providing medical care to their communities,” says Ruth Parent, SSHARE Program Manager, University of Calgary. “We have come to know these physicians not only as doctors and health care providers, but also as colleagues and friends. They are fulfilling their mission, and we are happy to have played a small role in that.

“All of the physicians have returned to South Sudan. Most are working in hospitals and clinics in both rural and urban South Sudan … Whether they are practicing clinically, or working in an administrative capacity, they are all affecting change. They are utilizing their medical knowledge and the leadership skills they learned here in Calgary to improve health care in South Sudan.”

Parent says the U of C hopes to continue to provide ongoing medical education to these physicians and their health care colleagues in South Sudan.

A report by Samaritan’s Purse says “although challenges were inevitably encountered in the course of program implementation, the overall results were very positive and nearly all targets were achieved or exceeded.”

“The SSHARE program was ultimately successful in that the facilities and medical personnel continue to provide improved and desperately-needed health care to women, men, and children. As South Sudan continues to struggle with conflict, corruption, and austerity measures, the long-term commitment and increased competence of the physicians and the increased capacity of the SSHARE-built facilities are helping to create favourable conditions for lasting peace.”

Parent provided some physician comments that are included in a report to CIDA.

“We are making a difference. In the community now, they are happy for what we are doing. After you treat the patient and he gets better, they give you food but they don’t have money. We eat as a team. I feel like I am doing something important,” says Dr. Samuel Agot.

“The program has been positive in all aspects and I believe each of us has gained knowledge and skills in many areas which have helped improve our work. The success is reflected in the many lives we have saved. Our work as a group has had a positive impact. We thank all the SSHARE team and the Government of Canada,” says Dr. Deng Mayom.

“I am confident now in my job, doing things without fear thanks for the SSHARE Program, which helped me improve my surgical skills in general and my knowledge in medicine,” says Dr. Mabior Bior.

“When I came back home to South Sudan, I faced a lot of challenges and also some successes. One of the challenges I experienced was re-adaptation to my African culture. The type of food people eat here in South Sudan is not the same as in the western world. Also, the high expectations that people had for us. I have had a lot of successes here in South Sudan. I am able to work as a medical doctor; the community accepts me. I am making a difference in helping heal the people of South Sudan, and I am participating in the development of this country,” says Dr. Okony Mori.

“Having to leave South Sudan in 1984 during the Civil War was my biggest personal challenge; I had to readjust to hosting countries cultures/lifestyle starting with Ethiopia (two years), Cuba (12 years), Canada (12 years) and back to South Sudan now for three years. My exposure to many cultures and countries, which initially was a big challenge, turned out to be an asset that is very helpful whenever adaptability is required. In this context, I consider myself multicultural and multilingual. I have come to realize that keeping an open mind and flexible perspective is the way forward to facing challenges. All in all, I have always kept my hope high,” says Dr. John Kok.