Maria sits confidently in the clinic among a group of village leaders and medical professionals. This elderly traditional birth attendant’s eyes speak of the trouble she has lived through – decades of conflict, refugee camps and the stories of hundreds of mothers that she has assisted in giving birth. As gatekeeper to women in her community, the village leaders fervently respect Maria’s wisdom and know-how; she is a walking encyclopedia of information on maternal health, cultural norms and local politics. With a tinge of truth in her voice, Maria sarcastically laughs, “I know women are pregnant before they know.”
South Sudan, the world’s newest country, bears the burden of rebuilding a war-ravaged society and supporting displaced groups of Sudanese people. The health care system took a blow as skilled medical professionals fled to the North, leaving a large population without adequate medical care and essential supplies for decades. But the new government is dedicated to addressing the enormous demand for health solutions, especially for the unacceptably high number of women dying every day from preventable medical conditions such as hemorrhaging after childbirth.
At the invitation of the committed South Sudan Ministry of Health, VSI and collaborating partners incorporated life-saving misoprostol tablets into safe motherhood initiatives and policies.