International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Safer deliveries for South Sudan’s new mothers

Sudan’s decades-long civil war has left South Sudan, which became an independent state last year, without a functioning health system or trained personnel.  As a result, the new nation has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality: More than 2,000 mothers die for every 100,000 live births.

In response, the International Rescue Committee is supporting 30 health facilities nationwide and has trained over 2,500 community health workers and other healthcare staff.  We’re also building maternal health clinics in extremely remote communities, staffing them with trained South Sudanese midwives who can deliver good quality basic obstetric care. 
In South Sudan, the practice of delivering a baby at home is traditional — but risky.  “A woman delivering at home in the U.S. with a midwife in attendance who has a complication can get an ambulance to the hospital at any time of the day or night,” says IRC country director Sudan Purdin.  “A woman delivering at home in a village in South Sudan has no access to such lifesaving care.”
Traditional birth attendants, usually the only source of maternal health care services in rural areas, are playing an important role in convincing pregnant women to leave their homes to deliver their babies at an IRC clinic.  Thanks to their efforts, an increasing number of the new nation’s expectant mothers are choosing to give birth in health facilities where they’ll have a much better chance of a safe delivery and a healthy start for their babies.