With its independence secured on 9th July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan faces a daunting task to improve public health and primary care in one of the poorest countries in the world. Very high maternal and child mortality rates must be a major concern for the new national government and for the many international agencies working in the country. Poor maternal health outcomes are primarily due to poor prenatal, delivery and post natal care services in health facilities, coupled with low literacy, widespread poverty, and poor nutrition among the general population. Child mortality is the result of widespread malnutrition, pneumonia, malaria, vaccine preventable diseases and diarrheal diseases. National responses to HIV and AIDS with international assistance have been encouraging with relatively low rates of infection. This paper explores barriers and identifies opportunities available to work toward achieving the targets for Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 5 and 4 to reduce maternal mortality from its current rate of 2,054 deaths per 100,000 live births, and child mortality (currently 135 deaths per 1,000 live births) respectively in the new nation. National and international organizations have a social responsibility to mobilize efforts to focus on maternal, child health and nutrition issues targeting the worst affected regions for improving access to primary care and obstetrical services. Initiatives are needed to build up community access to primary care with a well supervised community health workers program, as well as training mid level management capacity with higher levels of funding from national and international sources to promote public health than current in the new republic.
Maternal and child healthMillennium development goalsSouth Sudan