20 February 2018
Against all odds
In South Sudan, one in 26 newborn babies die within the first month of life. Many of these deaths are preventable.
Four years into a brutal conflict, South Sudan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. A shortage of trained health workers and a lack of essential medicines and equipment mean that giving birth in South Sudan results far too often in tragedy. At the Juba Teaching Hospital in South Sudan’s capital, more than 10% of infants born at the neonatal clinic die.
Newborn Ayah weighs only 1.3 kilograms and suffers from sepsis and jaundice. Despite being in one of only two functioning incubators on the neonatal ward, the hospital does not have the equipment to treat him. Adding to the tragedy, Ayah’s mother bled to death following his delivery.
(Left) Agnes, 20, grimaces in pain as midwives try to stop her bleeding as she holds her newborn.
“I had to bring everything from my house. There is nothing good about delivering in the hospital. I wouldn’t come here again to deliver” says Agnes.
Midwives attend to a birth in the delivery room as a porter mops the floor. The hospital is short on essential drugs and medical equipment, putting mothers and babies at risk.
“If a baby needs anything more than basic treatment then there is nothing we can do” says the paediatrician on the neonatal ward. “We are doing our absolute best but some things are simply out of our control.”
A nurse observes a premature baby lying in an incubator.
A midwife speaks with a mother at the hospital. Worldwide, more than 80 per cent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis. These deaths are preventable with access to well-trained midwives and other proven solutions.
Learn more about Every Child ALIVE.