GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (iom.int) - IOM South Sudan has officially opened a new primary health care clinic at the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, Upper Nile State, where nearly 48,000 South Sudanese are seeking shelter and protection.
The clinic provides a safe space for IOM health staff to conduct general health care services for approximately 7,200 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in Sector 2 of the PoC site.
With a five-bed maternity ward, the clinic also offers reproductive health care services, including antenatal and postnatal care, family planning and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
As part of routine services, health staff provide immunizations against common diseases for children less than five years of age and pregnant and lactating mothers.
The new clinic was made possible by support from the Government of Japan, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and the UN Common Humanitarian Fund.
With more than 1.66 million people internally displaced across South Sudan, emergency health operations such as these remain critical as displacement, overcrowding, poor hygiene practices, seasonal disease outbreaks and chronic exposure to violence continue to increase health risks for IDPs of all ages.
“With the ongoing movement of IDPs into the Malakal PoC site, IOM is continuing to prioritize strengthening of health service provision. Collaboration with partners through the Health Cluster mechanism has allowed us to ensure all sectors of the PoC have coverage and avoid duplication of efforts. The opening of this IOM clinic in Sector 2 is an example of this collaboration,” explains IOM South Sudan Health Programme Manager Kelsi Kriitmaa.
As part of a holistic approach to reducing morbidity at the crowded site, IOM health staff in Malakal also work with community-based health promoters to spread health messaging, both in health promotion sessions at the static clinic and through household visits. These efforts go hand-in-hand with IOM hygiene and sanitation promotion efforts conducted every day throughout the PoC site.
To date in 2015, IOM staff in Malakal have conducted more than 46,500 health consultations, vaccinated nearly 7,400 children against common diseases and facilitated the delivery of 754 babies. Just this week, IOM midwives helped deliver healthy twin baby boys named Ngor and Chan. Their mother, Veronica, attends regular health check-ups with IOM midwives.
IOM plans to open a second clinic in Sector 4 in the coming weeks to serve the population of IDPs in newly opened sectors of the Malakal PoC. The IOM clinic currently operating in PoC 1 will be closed and the services relocated to the new clinic in Sector 2, where more IDPs are located due to improved living conditions. Expanding services are crucial to meet the needs of the IDP population, which increased rapidly in late July and early August due to humanitarian needs in nearby Wau Shilluk.
IOM also offers primary health care services at the UN PoC site in Bentu, Unity State, and for IDPs, returnees, refugees and vulnerable host community members in Renk, Upper Nile.