A Turning Point in History for Southern Sudan

A Turning Point in History for Southern Sudan

Health Clinic in Southern Sudan


For the past week, we in Southern Sudan have crowded polling stations to vote on a referendum that, if passed, would declare Southern Sudan the world’s newest nation. Observers have declared the voting “broadly fair,” and the 60 percent voter turnout required for the vote to pass has been reached. We are optimistic that this referendum will bring us closer to a peaceful, prosperous future.

The mood in Juba (the capital city of Southern Sudan) is bright as we await the results of the polls, set to be announced February 1. But our government and people realize that secession will bring new challenges along with its opportunities. About 150,000 of our Southern Sudanese brothers and sisters have returned home in recent weeks and still more are expected. While we welcome them joyfully and are delighted to see extended families reunited, this great influx of people will put additional strain on a health system that already struggles to meet the needs of the people it serves.

To address this issue and many more that will come with a positive outcome of the referendum, the government of southern Sudan has developed procedures on return, reinsertion, and early reintegration while developing the Southern Sudan Development Plan (SSDP), which provides a clear vision for the country’s security and economic and social development priorities for mid-2011 through 2013.

The USAID-funded Sudan Health Transformation Project (SHTP II) supports a package of high impact health services in 165 health facilities, in 14 counties, spread over 10 states of Southern Sudan and is thus well positioned to support the SSDP’s health care initiatives. Furthermore, SHTP II’s community component will work through local health committees to help reintegrate returned Southern Sudanese citizens into the health care system.

At this turning point in history, the Southern Sudanese people realize that we are at both an end and a beginning. We are eager to leave the war and violence of the past behind us and are prepared to stand together with our government and international partners to create a strong, peaceful, and healthy new country.

Dr. John Pasquale Rumunu is Technical Director for the MSH-led Sudan Health Transformation Project (SHTP II). He is currently working in Juba, Southern Sudan.