Recovery and reconstruction of the health sector in South Sudan
As part of the preparation process for the post-conflict period in Sudan, WHO is supporting the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Secretariat of Health to prepare a strategic framework and a transitional plan for health sector recovery in Southern Sudan. A series of meetings and workshops are being facilitated by WHO to support this process, including an international technical conference on Sudan, which will take place once a comprehensive peace agreement is signed.
On 19 - 20 February 2004, WHO held a workshop in Nairobi focusing on the reconstruction of the health sector in South Sudan. Approximately 100 participants attended, including representatives from the SPLM Secretariat of Health, WHO and other international and national organizations (UN & NGOs). Thematic papers were presented, including one on the pharmaceutical sector, and working groups reviewed each theme, making recommendations for short- and mid-term action.
The situation analysis presented by the working group on pharmaceutical policies depicted a severely disrupted pharmaceutical sector, with very low access to essential medicines for the majority of the population. UNICEF and Pharmaciens Sans Frontières are responsible for most procurement and distribution, but many other NGOs maintain their own procurement systems, with no proper coordination mechanism between the various parties. There is no official essential medicines list, and quality control mechanisms are non-existent. Education levels are extremely low, and training of health professionals remains severely limited, leading to irrational prescribing and wastage of medicines. Availability of human resources in the health sector as a whole, and more particularly in the pharmaceutical sector, is disturbingly low.
Immediate recommendations included the creation of a Pharmaceutical Coordination Group to coordinate activities among all those involved, and a rapid assessment of the pharmaceutical situation focusing on the procurement and distribution systems. Other priorities include developing an essential medicines list by level of health care, a national medicines policy with an implementation plan for 2004 - 2010, and national guidelines on medicines donations.