Maar is a village in the State of Jonglei, Southern Sudan. This is the village where Jacob Atem and David Deng are originally from. They fled this village during the North/South Sudan civil war 20 years ago. Like many villages in the Southern Sudan, Maar experienced a genocide that claimed many lives and separated families for 20 years.
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Maar is located between Bor South and Bor North. This isolation makes it difficult to help those who usually need immediate medical attention such as pregnant women, children, and the elderly. The closest clinics in the area are in Panyagor and Bor. It takes two days to get from Maar to Panyagor and three days to reach Bor. These two clinics are run by non-government organizations. Sadly, patients are carried in folded blankets between poles to form a kind of stretcher. Concerned relatives carry the sick on their shoulders and make this journey by foot between two to four days.
The Southern Sudan Health Care Organization has been set up because of the need for a acceptable healthcare facility in Maar. Currently, there is a rusty, bullet riddled dispensary that managed to survive the war. In this building, the people of Maar and surrounding areas receive little or no healthcare assistance.
For people in Maar and neighboring villages to receive the necessary more extensive healthcare, they need a lot of money and the means to travel to Kenya or Uganda to receive treatment. Many people cannot afford to travel so far, and several people who risk the journey do not make it there alive. Even if these people can make it to either Kenya or Uganda, treatment is often ineffective because the disease has ravaged its victim beyond medical help. Maar is in a strategic position, and a Clinic there would be accessible to all communities in the area.
Main Health Concern in Maar
Pre and postnatal healthcare is a major problem in Maar and in Southern Sudan as a whole. This can be explained by high levels malnourishment and mortality rates in the country. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)
-13.5 percent of South Sudanese children die before they’re five years old and only 2.7 percent of children are fully immunized
(Wheeler par. 2).
-“South Sudan has the world’s worst maternal mortality rate at 2,054 per 100,000 live births. Only 13.9 percent of deliveries are witnessed by labor and delivery health workers” (Wheeler par 4).
In the case of Maar, children scarcely receive immunization or prenatal care because they are born in one of the most remote and isolated parts of Sudan.
When the ATA visited Maar in October/ November, 2006, there was an outbreak of measles in the area of Paliau and Maar. “The Paliau health facility was endowed with only 200 doses of measles vaccinations and this was to be split between Maar and Paliau, a combined population of more than 10,000 people” (Agyeman-Duah, p 22). As a result, not all the children received vaccination. Consequently, 50% of the cases that were recorded in Paliau ended in mortality according to the ATA report (Agyeman-Duah).
The lack of a maternity health center is also a problem in the community. As a result, women deliver in their houses with no little or no medical attention available. There are traditional midwives or Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) who assume the role of a delivery health worker in cases of easy and simple delivery. Unfortunately, the traditional midwives do not have the training or resources to handle complicated deliveries. Many deliveries are fatal.