In South Sudan, children die needlessley of disease and malnutrition. The infant mortality rate in South Sudan is 68 per 1,000 births (CIA, 2014), and only 1.8% of children in Jonglei State have received all necessary vaccinations (South Sudan Statistical Yearbook).
The country has a total of 1,147 total health functioning facilities for 10.5 million people (many of these are basic mud huts). There are only 37 hospitals, and only 1.5 doctors and 2 nurses for every 100,000 citizens (CSIS, 2012).
South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world at 2,054 deaths per 100,000 live births (South Sudan Statistical Yearbook). Women have a greater chance of dying in childbirth than finishing high school.
With 9.4 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths each year, TB is one of the developing world’s biggest killers (WHO, 2013). According to the Sudan Ministry of Health, TB affects approximately 257 per 100,000 people.
In our area of South Sudan, where there is little to no access to TB treatment, the prevalence rate is more than twice that of the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. There is also a phenomenal estimated infection rate, with 65% the 4-to-10 year old children having a positive skin test for tuberculosis (report).
The Alaskan doctor Jill Seaman, a TIME Magazine Hero of Medicine, and MacArthur Fellow, has been fighting the war against tuberculosis in South Sudan for the last 25 years. She reports:
"The 50,000 inhabitants of our catchment area had never had TB treatment available before… The impact of treating TB extends much farther than treatment of one person. Untreated TB is usually either debilitating or fatal. Every person with pulmonary TB is said to infect 10-14 people a year. Where famine occurs regularly, a disabled parent often means starvation for the whole family. Treating one patient may save many lives. TB treatment is as cost-effective as vaccination campaigns."
Tuberculosis is not the only infectious disease burden in South Sudan. Of the 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases recognized by the WHO, all are present in South Sudan (report). Many diseases that have been eradicated in other parts of the world still present a public health challenge in South Sudan. Leprosy, a forgotten infectious disease in the Western world, still persists in South Sudan including Old Fangak.
Only 0.1% of the people in Jonglei State have a water source on site. More than 40% of the population has to walk more than 30 minutes to a water source. Diarrhea in children under 5 years old is the second leading cause of death, which can be mostly prevented by clean water, sanitation and hygiene (South Sudan Statistical Yearbook).
In sub-Sahara Africa, clean water is a priviledge, not a right: 350 million people do not have access to clean water. The good news is that worldwide, since 1990 over 2 billion people have gained access to clean water (WHO/UNICEF, 2014).
Women carry the burden of collecting water for their families. Worldwide, women spend 152 million hours each year collecting water (UNICEF, 2012).
The literacy rate in South Sudan is 27%. In Jonglei State, it is 16%. Only 15.9% of South Sudanese children complete primary school, and over 1 million primary school age children are out of school. (South Sudan Statistical Yearbook)
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), only about 3.6 percent is being cultivated. And yet, over 90% of South Sudan's land is suitable for agriculture.
In 2014, the FAO estimates that almost 7 million people will be food insecure (story).