The Maridi County Hospital was not initially in the plan for Action Africa’s work in South Sudan. In the early 1990’s, as AAH South Sudan worked with small community based health facilities, it became evident that there was a need for better quality services on a larger scale.
“That is how Action Africa came to be running Maridi Hospital,” explained Dr. Dricile Ratib, AAH SS Maridi Area Manager. “So since 1993, up to date, we have been supporting health services in Maridi Hospital - both curative and preventative.”
But the hospital has a long preexisting history with the community. Originally, it was started as a colonial clinic in 1916 by the Belgians. They were suffering from malaria and sleeping sickness, so they needed to start a clinic for their people who were in Maridi.
After the First World War, the British took over and expanded the clinic into a full-fledged hospital in the 1920’s. After independence in 1956, the hospital was handed over to the government of Sudan till 1989 when the civil war broke between the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government of Sudan. During the war, the hospital was abandoned and the staff fled until 1992 when Maridi was liberated and residents returned.
“AAH SS is an organization that has been with us in Maridi for quite a long time,” said the Maridi Commissioner, Hon. Adili Sanderi. “During the war they moved in here and started doing a number of activities including health, agriculture, community development, and emergency preparedness and response.”
Currently the hospital has six wards and treats an average of 24,000 patients a year. Most of the patients are referred from one of the 24 surrounding primary health care centers/units in the area, which are also run by AAH South Sudan.
AAH SS is also keen on health education programs that teach the community how to prevent disease and maintain good health. Talk shows are produced through the local radio station as well as the use of drama to inform the community about common diseases such as malaria, proper use of and mosquito nets properly and good hygiene practices.
“The delivery of services at the hospital is still a major concern for the County,” Hon. Sanderi said. “What we have is lack of adequately trained staff in the hospital. I really want to see more of our national staff well trained and delivering services for the sustainability of the program.”
Sanderi went on to express that AAH SS is still vital in the staffing needs of the hospital, especially with doctors.
“Much of the administrative support is also from AAH SS as well as support to the primary health care centers outside the County,” Sanderi said. “AAH has done remarkably well in supporting the health care system in Maridi and we are grateful for that.”
After independence from Sudan was declared, it was expected that the newly formed government would take up some responsibility of running primary services to the communities. Although this shift did occur for some time, the current reduction in oil production and insecurity in the Northern part of the country has affected government revenues considerably. Aid agencies do still need to provide services for the time being in spite of reduced funding.
Dr. Ratib explained how the hospital is left to deal with the most necessary services that it can offer within its limitations. “We resort to dealing mainly with emergency operations. We can’t for example do elective procedures because we don’t have enough resources” He emphasized. Hopes of delving into more research on the cause of the rampant river blindness disease and the nodding syndrome stays on the back burner as patients with more life-threatening issues take precedence.
AAH South Sudan is committed to continued support of the Maridi County Hospital while exploring more sustainable funding options to ensure quality health care for the people of Maridi.