South Sudan: Juba Teaching Hospital Support

RMF CEO, Dr. Martina Fuchs, South Sudan and Uganda Trip Report

April 07, 2014

Dr. Martina Fuchs

SOUTH SUDAN (February 12-22), and UGANDA (February 22-March 2) 2014

Visit to the Outpatient Department/Accident & Emergency Department at Juba Teaching Hospital to evaluate the situation and needs, with Dr Mayen Achiek, Assistant Professor of Surgery, College of Medicine, Consultant Surgeon, Juba Teaching Hospital. 

(above) Patients at the A&E Department, only finding space on the floor outside

(above) Patients inside the A&E Department, many only find space on the floor; many beds hold 2 or more patients. Many patients stay days, sometimes weeks here.

There is one nurse for up to 40 patients.

(above L) patient on the floor, final stage AIDS; (R) Dr. Mayen Achiek and RMF's Okang Wilson Ezekiel

(above, L): X-ray Division at the OPD; (R): patients waiting

(above, L): the only examination table for the OB/GYN OPD; (R) exhausted mother and baby on the floor of the OPD

(above, L): patients on the floor of the OPD; (R) mother and baby

(above L): mother and baby; (R): RMF team and Dr. Wani Lolik Lado

We followed up on RMF’s projects in South Sudan, i.e. Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery; Juba Teaching Hospital projects; follow up meetings with Master Trainers of the Respectful Maternity Care Training Pilot Program; meetings with team, partners, and stakeholders, in addition to meetings with the Ministry of Health and JTH.

With respect to RMF’s emergency supply shipment from January 10, 2014; Dr Wani Lolik Lado, Director General, JTH stated, “The supplies provided by RMF in January are what still keeps the hospital stable now. We know we can always count on RMF to deliver.”

We also visited the wards and storage facilities to follow up on medicines, medical supplies and equipment delivered on January 10, 2014. I was impressed with the careful and high impact use:

(above, L): oxygen concentrator at the OB/GYN Department; (R): wheelchair at the OB/GYN Department

(above L): at the Maternity Department; (R) at the Outpatient Department

(above L): X-ray supplies at the Outpatient Department, Radiology; (R) at the Pediatric Department

At 2 storage facilities on Juba Teaching Hospital grounds for pending distribution:


As part of my visit, we followed up on RMF’s work at the Pediatric Wards of Juba Teaching Hospital:In a Health Systems Strengthening project, RMF has started to upgrade infrastructure at JTH in the spring of 2013, beginning with the wards of the Pediatric Department, as well as to support procurement of furniture, medical equipment, and supplies for the Pediatric Department. Milestones achieved include the full renovation of Pediatric Wards 5 and 7 (total bed capacity of 120 beds), development of guidelines and policies and provision of supplies for the maintenance of the renovated Pediatric Wards; recruitment of additional staff; removal and disposal of large amounts of regular and medical waste, and design and initiation of a waste disposal management program; training of nursing staff in charge in various departments on the importance of infection control and waste segregation in the wards/outpatient departments; procurement of protective gears; facilitation of and regular monitoring and supportive supervision of the JTH healthcare workers on policy guidelines; support of high speed WIFI internet services for JTH Resource Centre providing internet access to doctors and nurses at the hospital; assessment for improving water and sanitation situation at JTH; pilot training program on Respectful Maternity Care. 

The renovation of the Pediatric Wards has reduced re-infection rates among children on admission and also improved working conditions for healthcare professionals and JCONAM (Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery) students on their clinical rotations, and, above all, increased the quality of care patients receive and started to increase the number of patients coming for medical treatment.

(above L): Dr. Martina Fuchs with the head of the Pediatric Department, Dr. Hassan Chollong

During the recent crisis, the children have been evacuated, and the newly renovated Pediatric Wards have been hosting wounded soldiers and other army personnel.

Meeting with the Master Trainers of RMF’s Respectful Maternity Care Training Pilot Progam in November/ December 2013 to discuss impact, behavior change and next steps:

(above L): Master Trainer Meeting – Respectful Maternity Care Training; (R) Master Trainer Jamila

(above L): Master Trainer Siama; (R): Okang Wilson Ezekiel, Dr. Martina Fuchs with RMF Midwifery Students at the JTH Maternity Ward

February 22, 2014
We drove from Juba to the South Sudan/Uganda border, to visit Nimule Hospital and IDP camps on the South Sudan side of the border, and refugee camps on the Ugandan side of the border.

Nimule Hospital started in the early 1970s as a clinic and was upgraded to a hospital in 1983. Interventions are in 3 main areas, Healthcare, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS.  The bed capacity of Nimule Hospital is 174 beds, which is very small considering it serves the entire population of Magwi County (287,000 people), travelers from Uganda, and  other neighboring counties in Central Equatoria State, and now in addition the more than 50,000 South Sudanese IDPs relocated to Nimule. Nimule Hospital departments and services include: OPD; MCH, ART, TB, and Sleeping sickness programs; OR, Pediatrics, Maternity Department; one ambulance for referral cases. 

Since RMF South Sudan was asked to support Nimule Hospital, we met with Medical Director, Dr. David Nyuma and his team.                 

(above L): Nimule; (R): Nimule Hospital

(above L): Newborn twins; (R): Maternity Ward

(above L): Ambulance at Nimule Hospital; (R): Midwife Agnes, one of RMF's JCONAM Graduates, employed here

photo: Dr. Taban Martin Vitale and Okang Wilson Ezekiel with Nimule Hospital Team

February 22, 2014


We continued to IDP camps at Hai Kanisa Church, at the South Sudan side of the border, for a rapid assessment of the IDP situation. We were accompanied by 2 friends of RMF’s South Sudan team for translations, Richard Amada and Chol Abraham.

Their stories were desperate and sad.  They came to kill everyone, burnt down houses; they did not spare even my old Mother ….  “One woman speaks as tears roll down her cheek.

We found almost exclusively women and children, in 115 °F, without shelter or shade. They didn’t even have enough mats for all of the children to sleep on. It had started to rain at night, and they tried to squeeze into a nearby container to find shelter. The mothers didn’t have enough food for themselves and their children, and reported that many of the children had been getting sick with diarrhea.

Many visitors had come by and taken photos, but none of them had returned. Many of the women were very angry, understandably. It is always a judgment call to document the situation with photos, since we have witnessed so many times the same stories: Photos are taken; promises are made, and not kept. On the other hand, to document and share the despair and need, it is almost impossible to do this without photos.

We had about $350 in cash and decided that we would try to help with at least something, so they wouldn’t feel so completely abandoned.

(above L): Dr. Martina Fuchs with IDPs at Hai Kanisa Church, close to Nimule, South Sudan; (R): Container the IDPs tried to use as shelter from the night rains

We bought posho, beans, cooking oil and papyrus mats in Nimule, and brought them to the IDPs:

Their joy was incredible and humbling. They started to pray and thank God that he made our gift happen for them.  The most touching transformation was that of one very outspoken, angry, older woman. Her smile and gratitude was beyond words. She expressed that our coming back made her believe in God again.



February 22, 2014
We crossed the border to Uganda that evening and drove to Adjumani, West Nile.

February 23, 2014
RMF’s South Sudan and Uganda team leaders met in Adjumani on Sunday morning to assess the Adjumani District refugee situation.

We met with the Settlement Commander at the Office of the Prime Minister’s Refugee Desk in Pakele and briefed him about RMF’s work in South Sudan and Uganda. The refugee situation in Uganda had been becoming more and more overwhelming. RMF’s main areas of intervention would be healthcare and education.

We visited 2 of the 5 camps in the area, Nyumazi 1 and Ayuilo, each of them with more than 20,000 refugees from South Sudan, mainly Jonglei and Unity States. More than 65% of refugees registered here are school age children, many of them unaccompanied minors. It is projected that the number of refugees in West Nile will continue to rise, to 70,000 or more. 40,000 refugees from West Nile alone are expected to move on to Kiryandongo Refugee Camp, where RMF has been working since 2008.

photo (L): 13-year-old boy from Bor who doesn't know if his mother is alive.

The situation in the camps is very poor; there are no proper medical facilities; schools; clean drinking water, bedding supplies, or mosquito nets.  Our team visited the reception centre in Nyumazi and the two settlement camps (Nyumazi 1 and Ayuilo) and concluded that the challenges facing the two refugee camps are the following:

  • Lack of Health Care, especially maternal child healthcare

  • Inadequate Clean Water: Water points established by agencies working in the camp sites are only one crest tank of 12,000L capacity which is very small given the huge population to serve.  Additional bore holes/wells needed

  • Lack of Schools: There are no schools in the camps and thousands of children, the majority of them traumatized, just roam around.

  • Inadequate food for the number of refugees. A large percentage of children already arrived malnourished.

  • Inadequate shelter: Refugees are given one plastic sheet to erect a shelter, which in the already starting rainy season will be useless, exposes to infectious diseases, and is unsafe for women and children.

  • Poor hygiene and sanitation: Open defecation will be a serious cause of diseases.

The majority of the refugees are surviving on small food rations from the World Food Program. The situation is even worse for unaccompanied minors, the elderly and persons with disabilities because there are no support programs or interventions in place for them.

From interviews with refugees, over 90% of them were only able to arrive in Uganda with the clothes on their back and no other supplies. To avoid the high risks of loss of life, large scale medical and supply intervention is acutely needed in the shortest time possible.

(above L): RMF South Sudan and Uganda Team leaders; (R) refugee children, many unaccompanied minors

(above R): meeting with camp leadership

We had meetings with the camp leadership in both of the camps we visited, and I was impressed by their clarity, and concrete and realistic suggestions.

So many of the refugees’ stories are horrific, countless children who have seen their parents being killed in front of their eyes. A large percentage of these children are now in the refugee camps, unaccompanied by an adult.

The camp leadership requested as the most urgent:

  • Healthcare, especially Maternal Child Healthcare

  • Psychological Trauma Support

  • School for the Children

Since many of the children are now orphans, school would help to give them a structure and help with the horrific trauma they had to go through.

Many of the refugees are professionals, teachers, doctors, university professors.  So, South Sudanese could provide trauma support to South Sudanese. The camp leadership’s suggestions were very practical and economic:

“Let’s find the teachers in the camp, tents and ask for books/stationery/supplies and start school as soon as possible.”


February 23, 2014

RMF’s South Sudan and Uganda team parted ways on Sunday evening and we drove to the Kiryandongo Refugee/ Resettlement Camp.

RMF has been serving Ugandans, Ugandan IDPs and refugees from other African nations since April 2008, when the RMF team first arrived from the US to the Mulanda Refugee Transit Centre, giving emergency assistance to the large influx of Kenyan Refugees escaping political violence in Kenya.  This emergency help was initially in the form of psychological trauma and social support, school fee subsidies, clothing, care kits and seeds for the refugees to start their own small gardens.  During this initial phase of emergency assistance, help was also provided to the surrounding local Ugandan communities of Tororo through the Mella Health Centre, St. Anthony’s Hospital, the Mama Kevina Comprehensive School, and the youth in the slums surrounding the Mama Kevina School. 

When the Kenyan refugees were eventually transferred from the Mulanda Transit Centre to the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in mid-2008, the RMF team followed and continued to provide school support, medicines and medical supplies, and other projects as needed.  RMF also continued to maintain its presence in Tororo.

Since those early days, RMF has greatly expanded its support and development initiatives at the Kiryandongo Settlement to both Ugandan IDPs and refugees from numerous other African nations with Vocational Training, Water System Repair and upgrades, School Fee Support, Support of Kiryandongo’s Panyadoli Health Center with continuous medicine and medical supplies as well as personnel support; RMF also continues its support to the Mama Kevina Boarding School and Orphanage, and is now also constructing additional buildings on the school’s campus.

Also in Uganda, RMF runs youth projects in Buwate and has supported refugees from the DRC, and renovated and completely equipped a new hospital in Nakalanda.

The Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda, is a UNHCR managed refugee settlement that provides shelter, land and support for more than 25,000, comprised of Ugandan IDPs and refugees from Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and (South) Sudan.  RMF has partnered with UNHCR in supporting Kiryandongo and the greater surrounding community of Bweyale (an additional 30,000 residents) with health care, education and vocational training since 2008.  Our vision at Kiryandongo has always been to help the refugee communities get back on their feet through better health, education, and new work skills/vocational training so that they are equipped to leave the Refugee Camps and be able to support themselves. 

Since the end of December and as of February 24, 2014, Kiryandongo has received an influx of more than 12,000 refugees from South Sudan, and is expecting as many as 40,000 more.  These new refugees will be in need of health care at the onsite RMF supported 2 health centers, education funding/support for their children at the settlement schools, and other livelihood and water/food/supply support.

There are horrific stories from so many, having their parents, children, loved ones seen being killed in front of their eyes. I was very impressed how the Uganda OPM reinforces (as RMF does) that in the camp, there are no tribes, there are just people living together now and trying to help each other. And it works.


(above): unaccompanied refugee children


This Level III Health Center’s target population is about 60,000 residents in the Bweyale region, including 41,000 Ugandan IDPs, Bududa survivors, and Refugees from Kenya, Sudan, Congo, Burundi and Rwanda which are the main target population. In the past, the large influxes included that of 10,000 new Ugandan IDPs in October 2010 and another 15,000 joined the Kiryandongo Resettlement Camp at the end of May 2011.

The Panyadoli Health Center treats as many as 3,000 patients per month, for a wide variety of issues including malaria, malnutrition, maternal and child care, and HIV/AIDS; cases requiring tertiary care are referred to the closest county hospital.

With an additional influx of more than 12,000 refugees since December 2013 (as of February 24), and an expected additional 40,000 coming, resources are seriously strained.

Severe acute malnutrition cases have not been infrequent in the past, with deaths being reported in children whose parents came too late for treatment. These numbers have now been rising with many of the South Sudanese refugee children already arriving acutely malnourished.
RMF’s consistent supply of medicine and supplies to the health center has also enabled the running of a smaller second clinic (Panyadoli Health Center II) at a further away location in the settlement and enables the Panyadoli Health Center to handle more complicated cases.  In addition to the continuous medical support, RMF has also has maintained the solar powered water pumps, pipes, and taps that supply all the clinic buildings and that we had installed in a previous year.  Our vision continues to be to expand and upgrade the Panyadoli Health Center’s capacity and services so it can function as a Level 4 Hospital. With the recent influx of new patients, this has become more urgent.

(L): Maternity Building at Panyadoli Health Center III; (R): patients

(above L): children's Ward; (R): RMF Team Members, Clinical Officer Simon Opieto, Nurse Trainees

(above L): 17-month-old, severely malnourished child; (R): another malnourished child at the Malnutrition Ward of Panyadoli Health Centre III. A large percentage of the refugee children arrive already significantly malnourished.


RMF’s consistent supply of medicine and supplies has also enabled the running of a smaller second clinic at a further away location in the settlement, Panyadoli Health Center II. This health center is now getting additional attention and needs additional support since many of the South Sudanese refugees are being resettled in close proximity to this health center.

(above L): Panyadoli Health Center II, OPM, Dr. Martina Fuchs and RMF Team; (R): patients on their way to the Health Center

February 24 and 25, 2014

When the Kenyan refugees arrived at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in 2008, there was very little support in terms of school fees for their children, and there was no provision for a nursery school at the settlement.  RMF stepped forward to establish a school support program to cover fees and supplies for Nursery, Primary and Secondary School children of the Kenyan refugee community at Kiryandongo. In the subsequent years, students from (South) Sudan, Congo, Burundi and Rwanda have been accepted into our program as well.  RMF pays a portion of the tuition fees, school uniforms, school supplies, and exam fees for the students of parents unable to afford the fees.  We also cover the cost and travel expenses for the final examination tests for the senior high school students.Up to 1,602 students have been sponsored per month.

The refugee children we currently support are from Kenya, Congo, Burundi, Sudan and attend the following schools in the settlement: Beth Cole Nursery School; Day Star Nursery School; Arnold Primary School; Can Rom Primary School; Panyadoli Secondary School. We also continued to provide funding for the annual registration of candidates in Senior Level Four and Senior Level Six that are in our sponsorship program and facilitated candidates taking their national exams in the city of Masindi.    
The massive influx of South Sudanese refugee children has created an additional tremendous need. Many of these children are severely traumatized and need urgent psychological trauma support. In many of the class rooms we visited on February 24 and 25, South Sudanese children outnumbered all others. Their stories are heartbreaking.

South Sudanese Refugee Students at the Kiryandongo Resettlement Camp as of February 24, 2014:

Existing Students             New South Sudanese Refugee Students

Panyadoli Secondary School                     205                       205
Arnold Primary School                               350                       678
Can Rom Primary School                          522                       504
Beth Cole Nursery School                         30                         219

Dr. Martina Fuchs and school children

(above): South Sudanese refugee students are telliung their stories of how their family members were killed in front of their eyes. It was heartbreaking to see these young men trying to hold back their tears.

February 25, 2014
We continued to visit RMF projects in Uganda, our Vocational Training Institute in Kiryandongo; our projects in Buwate and Kampala. On February 28, we left for Eastern Uganda where RMF has school projects in Tororo.


Juba Teaching Hospital, the only referral hospital in the whole country of South Sudan, is located in its capital Juba, Central Equatoria State. With an estimated population of 10.16 million basing on annual population growth of 3% from a population census conducted in 2008 and lack of proper functioning primary health care facilities upcountry, many South Sudanese have nowhere to go to but this national referral hospital. Military and police hospitals, if any, are non-functional country wide, forcing soldiers and officers to share the limited facilities with civilians.

Juba Teaching Hospital is directly funded by the central government through the National Ministry of Health, and supported by Real Medicine Foundation, Medical Mission International, UN agencies and other NGOs. Our overarching goal is to improve the quality and sustainability of medical and surgical services provided at Juba Teaching Hospital.


  • Improve patient wards and build infrastructure within Juba Teaching Hospital starting with the Pediatric wards.
  • Assist in improving conditions for providing health care at Juba Teaching Hospital, including the policies and management of regular and medical waste.
  • Rehabilitate and/or purchase new medical equipment.
  • Provide basic medical supplies, disposables and pharmaceuticals for the Pediatric Department, complementing those provided by the Ministry of Health.
  • Organize on-site clinical training, beginning with general equipment usage.