Sudan: A new day in Melut town

Report
from Medair
Published on 11 Jan 2008
Southern Sudan -- Medair's new Primary Health Care Centre is already making a significant impact on the population.

The biggest challenge facing Medair's new Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC) in Melut Town may be its enormous popularity...

"People are so happy with the treatment," said Paul Akoch, a Community Health Worker (CHW). "The news travels fast and more and more people are coming from afar to receive treatment."

Great Need in Melut for Proper Health Care

In 2006, Medair trained Paul to become a CHW, which required him to take a nine-month course in Juba. Right after he received his certificate, he began working for Medair, and in March, was assigned to work in Melut.

"At first, they were really suffering in Melut County," said Paul. "They had to see doctors that had no facilities, and had to go to the market to buy the prescribed medicines. But they would never really know if the medication was right or not, and a lot of people died as a result of no proper health care."

Paul and the Medair team set up a temporary PHCC in tents that did not provide much protection from the elements.  

"The health staff were suffering under the hot sun," said Medair's Wendy van Amerongen, "and when the rainy season started, the tents got flooded and conditions were very difficult to work in."

Still, the need for proper health care was so high that patients kept coming, braving mud, snakes, and scorpions to seek medical attention. Meanwhile, construction began on a new permanent PHCC, which opened in November.

"Not only is there now a proper building decorating the vast lands on the outskirts of Melut," said Wendy, "but you can also see order, hygiene, and systems in place to bring peace and comfort to vulnerable patients."  

Many Patients for the New PHCC

On a recent visit to the new facility, Wendy met a young boy named Ayuel Joseph Manyeut. He was being discharged after five days of treatment for pneumonia and  trauma to his body.  The wounds were accidentally inflicted when his brother tried to carry the short-of-breath boy home to his mother and accidentally dropped him. Unable to get him the necessary treatment in Thiangrial, Ayuel's family brought him by boat all the way to Melut, where he received the right medication and close monitoring on a clean bed.

"The work is easier now," said David Akol Deng, a Medair Medical Assistant. "The only problem is that there are too many patients to be seen."

Every morning there are already 100 patients waiting by the time the centre opens. To prevent people waiting all day Medair instituted a system to register 50 people each morning for guaranteed treatment that day, leaving enough time to handle emergencies as they come in. On average, between 60 and 100 patients are seen in the centre every day.    

According to David, it is not just the proper building, good hygiene, and excellent staff that attracts people.

"It's also because Medair is working compassionately and taking the time to hear every individual's story. That's why more and more people are coming."