The United Nations reported that starvation has affected some 100,000 people since the beginning of the civil conflict that erupted in December 2013 between the government and opposition forces in South Sudan, and famine is threatening around one million. This conflict has not spared the health sector as recently intensified attacks on hospitals and health workers have worsened the humanitarian situation in the country. Around 50% of medicals facilities have collapsed since 2013.
Today, 60% of South Sudan’s population has no access to medical aid, including primary health care services. Further, some 7.5 million civilians are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, while hospitals are facing a severe lack of vital medical supplies. Doctors Without Borders reported about the lack of medical care and the difficult access to civilians in need of medical assistance. These problems have intensified due to worsening security conditions in the country. People are suffering from skin diseases, respiratory tract infections, water-borne disease, and malaria. In March and April 2017 alone, more than 20 people died in Otsah and Kalma camps, most likely from typhoid and giardiasis. Patients at the camps were previously transferred to the Juba Teaching Hospital. Today, however, the hospital lacks the needed supplies to treat these ailments, including cotton swabs, normal saline solutions, syringes, and antiseptics, according to the hospital’s director of pharmaceutical services.
Save the Children is currently warning about more increased outbreaks of water-borne diseases and other severe illnesses in South Sudan during the upcoming rainy season.
While people suffer from an unprecedented humanitarian situation, South Sudan’s labor ministry announced it would charge $10,000 for foreign aid workers starting 1 March 2017. This decision could further exacerbate the growing humanitarian crises in the country.
Defenders for Medical Impartiality (DMI) highlights everyone’s unhindered right to access health care enshrined by the non-interference principle of medical impartiality. DMI calls on the government of South Sudan to reverse its decision to raise work permit fees for foreign professionals in order to facilitate delivery of aid on the ground.