A narrow, rutted, red-dirt road connects Yambio and Nzara, the seats of their respective counties. The area between the towns is lush and green, a patchwork of small teak and pineapple farms. Homes are made of mud and thatch and schools, visible from the road, are often a group of benches under a shady tree. Classes are canceled when it rains or when families need to work in the fields, and there are no school supplies, no sanitation facilities, and no water.
Rates of maternal, neonatal, and under-five mortality remain high. The local malaria rate is among the world’s highest, and malaria is a leading cause of illness and death; the area is a national HIV hotspot. In the waning days of armed conflict, child soldiers began being released here by the thousand—far from their families and needing to be reintroduced to their communities.
Nzara’s St. Therese Mission Hospital, run by the Italy-based Comboni Missionary Sisters, has active maternity and children’s wards as well as units that treat tuberculosis and leprosy, but for many years no emergency vehicles were available. Although patient burden is high and infections likely, the care available remains vastly more effective than that provided by traditional healers. Unfortunately, many families initially seek them out—because the respect with which they are viewed in the community and for reasons of proximity and cost. Many Nzara County health facilities have neither pharmacies nor needed medications. Curable diseases go untreated, leading to avoidable sickness and death.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
People must travel far to reach the local water sources, and many break down with overuse or are contaminated by waste and parasites. Most county healthcare facilities lack safe water and appropriate sanitation facilities, as is also the case with more than half of the county’s schools, rendering classrooms as incubators of diarrhea and other diseases. Without appropriate toilets, adolescent girls have to miss school for several days each month, and their education suffers.
Education and employment opportunities are limited in Nzara County, translating to extreme poverty for many residents. Years of conflict and displacement have made it difficult for families to both plant and harvest crops in this area of fertile soil and propitious growing conditions.
How We Are Responding
CMMB has made a difference in life in the Western Equatoria region since we came to South Sudan in 2009. We are known as a trusted local partner for health and community development, and we:
- Work continuously with Nzara St. Therese Mission Hospital to improve infrastructure, supplement equipment, and provide supplies; with donor support, we just completed a surgical suite, delivery rooms, and blood bank.
- Provided rickshaw ambulances for emergency transport.
- Are working with county government to improve pharmacy infrastructure, equipment, and staffing and to stock primary healthcare facilities with appropriate medications. Implemented integrated outreach programs to boost health service utilization by the most vulnerable.
- As the main Nzara County implementer for South Sudan’s national Boma Health Initiative, train community health workers to provide counseling, health education, and diagnosis and routine treatment of common childhood killers. Promote uptake of antenatal care and in-facility delivery.
- Promote uptake of antenatal care and in-facility delivery.
- Drilled boreholes and installed water pumps, and to maintain them, created and trained WASH committees.
- Are renovating water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in primary schools and healthcare facilities.
- Have distributed water purification sachets to families who need it and sponsor community meetings to educate the public on water-related topics.
- Support women to initiate agricultural and livestock-raising activities and train them in basic business and entrepreneurial skills.
Meet Some of the Mothers and Children We Serve in Nzara
Supporting a holistic, sustainable approach to healthcare for women and children
We believe in helping others.
Peter, who is on the nursing staff at St. Therese Hospital in Nzara, says he will always remember CMMB medical volunteer Dr. Rachael Consoli. “Her work inspired me," he said. "She was open with patients and helpful in counseling them." In addition, whenever a patient came in with an illness that was unfamiliar to the hospital staff, Dr. Consoli took the time to explain how to treat it. “We learned a lot from her. I studied medicine because I want to become like Dr. Consoli.”Learn More
We believe in communities working together.
A prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) counselor for CMMB in Nzara, Nora works with pregnant mothers and their partners to ensure that their children stay healthy and HIV-free. She is devoted to her clients. “They are all my people. I don’t leave anyone behind. I escort them hand-in-hand through counseling and antiretroviral treatment.” Working with couples together, Nora also provides advice on prenatal and postnatal care and on the importance of delivering at a health center. "CMMB is helping us take care of our community," she says.Learn More
We believe in water as a building block for health.
It seems like only yesterday that these four children and their families fled flooding and violent conflict in their villages and became "internally displaced persons" living in a camp outside Nzara. Here, they have struggled to find enough food. They have struggled with housing. They have struggled with illness. Most of all, they have struggled because they don't have clean water. The shallow well near the camp is contaminated and dries up except during rainy season. CMMB is rehabilitating boreholes, repairing water pumps, and constructing water towers to assist families like these in Nzara.Learn More
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