Promoting Maternal & Child Health

Supporting Pre-Nursing Interns

Interns administer polio vaccineInterns administer polio vaccineStatistics verify what any observer in South Sudan can readily see: women there bear an inordinately high risk of dying in childbirth. In fact, South Sudan is tied with Afghanistan in having the world’s worst rate of maternal death: nearly 1 in 6. There is little healthcare infrastructure outside of the larger towns (few and far between); most women receive no prenatal care. Mercy Beyond Borders supports a one-year internship for girls desiring to become nurses but not quite ready yet for formal nursing training. During their internship they study under an experienced RN at a rural clinic and gain practical, hands-on skills (doing medical intakes; caring for wounds; treating malaria, snakebites, gunshot infections; giving IVs; dispensing medicines; conducting vaccinations in outlying bomas). Those who do well in the internship then receive Mercy Beyond Borders’ scholarships to the nursing college of their choice in S.Sudan. This work is made possible by a 3-year grant from Catholic Healthcare West to Mercy Beyond Borders.

Interns administer polio vaccine MBB interns load stretcher onto pickup truck to Boma
Pre-Nursing Intern Rose with Kuron Med Clinic
Director Sister Angela
MBB interns load stretcher onto pickup truck to Boma

Teaching Basic Health & Hygiene to Women

Because most Sudanese women have never been to school, they have not learned about the connection between hygiene and health. Water is scarce, precious and difficult to obtain. Why “waste it” bathing or washing hands? Mercy Beyond Borders conducts Saturday workshops for women in rural villages to teach basic health tenets: “Wash your hands. Boil your water. Cover your food. Eat greens.” The women throng to these workshops because we offer a grand feast of ugali (porridge) at the close of the lesson. Already we are beginning to see behavioral changes. Over time, we expect the high infant mortality rate to ease.

Sr. Kathleen teaching under a tree Woman serving ugali to health promotion workshop attendees
Sr. Kathleen teaches basic hygiene under a tree Woman serving ugali after health promotion workshop

Funding a Rural Medical Clinic

In Kuron, a remote corner of the State of Eastern Equatoria not far from the Ethiopian border, there is a new medical clinic serving the Toposa people. Mercy Beyond Borders funds the pre-nursing interns there, and also has provided a grant of $24,000 in support of general clinic operations. The region is so isolated that patients requiring surgery must travel 6 hours in the back of a pickup truck to Boma, the nearest town; if rains comes (as they do nearly 9 months of the year) the road is impassable and they are out of luck. It’s a logistical nightmare to keep the clinic supplied and to keep the equipment (what little there is) in working order, and very challenging to find staff willing to work in such a remote facility. The clinic is, however, a life-saver for everyone living within a 75 mile radius. Already, at least 5 babies born there (several of them boys!) have been named “Sister Angela” in honor of the clinic Director.

Gunshot survivor at Kuron Med Clinic MBB intern dispenses medication
Gunshot survivor at Kuron clinic MBB intern dispenses medication at Kuron Clinic