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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Improving maternal mortality in South Sudan

A team of Health Sciences staff has developed a UN-sponsored midwife training programme for South Sudan, which aims to save many lives in the new African state.

The Republic of South Sudan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 2,054 deaths per 100,000 live births.

That is largely because there are only around 12 fully qualified midwives in the country; most of whom come from neighbouring African states.

Around 2,500 under-qualified midwives, who have between two weeks and 18 months training, make up the shortfall.

That is why the United Nations Population Fund appointed staff from our Faculty to create a comprehensive and standardised national midwifery training programme.

Academics: Dr. Mary Gobbi, Mary Foss and Dr. Julie Cullen set to work on the project, along with Associate Dean Dr. Sue Colley.

The team developed a curriculum that would be accessible to midwives across South Sudan, many of whom have low literacy and numeracy skills. 

As a result, they created a system of picture cards and colour coding; helping trainees to understand and remember complex information.

The programme, which has now been delivered to South Sudan's Ministry of Health, is expected to strengthen midwifery education in line with the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal targets.

These include: reducing maternal mortality, as well as ensuring universal access to reproductive health services in the country by 2015.

The programme is designed to be appropriate to the South Sudan local needs and does not judge the services that they currently have; it is about enhancing what is there at the moment to ensure all women have access to a standardised service.

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