JUBA, South Sudan – The Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery recently graduated its first class of nurses and midwives. The inaugural group of 17 midwives and 13 nurses is the first to earn diplomas that meet the required Ministry of Health standards since South Sudan declared its independence on 9 July, 2011.
The graduation ceremony took place at the Nyakuron Cultural Center in the capital Juba in the presence of the South Sudanese Minister of Health, Dr. Riek Gai Kok, UN and NGO partners, and the families of the students. The three-year Midwifery and Nursing Diplomas at the Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery were initiated in 2010 with support from UNFPA.
Decades of marginalisation and civil wars have made South Sudan one of the poorest countries in the world, where access to health services is estimated at less than 30 per cent. The maternal death ratio is also among the highest in the world. For every 100,000 live births, about 2,054 pregnant women die due to labour and delivery complications, and one in nine children will not live to see his or her fifth birthday.
When midwives are properly educated, empowered, and authorized with essential basic life-saving competencies, they can avert the vast majority of maternal deaths.
“The government of South Sudan is committed to alleviate the unacceptably high maternal and newborn mortality rates and will vigorously work to improve the human resources of the health sector,” said Dr. Riek Gai Kok at the graduation ceremony. He also announced that the recent graduates will be hired and deployed to health centres in Juba.
“One South Sudanese mother who dies is too much,” said Barnabas Yisa, the UNFPA representative in South Sudan, reaffirming the vital role midwives play in the global challenge to ensure that no woman dies giving life.
With 102 midwifery and nursing students currently enrolled in its three-year programme, the Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery stands as a model institution for South Sudan, one that will boost the number of adequately trained nurses and midwives to deliver improved and effective health care.