Juba Link closure

SAINT MARY’S HOSPITAL LINK COMPLETES A DECADE OF HEALTH EDUCATION IN JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN

The St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight – Juba Teaching Hospital Link was established in 2007. Consultant Physician , Dr Eluzai Hakim, recruited colleagues to work with him in setting up this vital health training link and Charitable Status was achieved. South Sudan had recently emerged from 25 years of Civil War and was preparing for independence from its Northern Sudanese neighbour and ruler. Infrastructure needed to be built up and this was very much the case for healthcare in Juba , capital of South Sudan. Most doctors had been trained in Khartoum, capital of Sudan. The Juba Teaching Hospital training  needs were urgent. The Link strongly believed that training was the foundation of an effective healthcare system.

A fact finding visit took place in ‪2008 by Dr Eluzai Hakim, Mr Tim Walsh( Consultant Surgeon and Educator), Mrs Zorina Walsh( Educator and Administrator, Mrs Jo Hanks((Clinical Nurse Specialist) and Dr David Atwood ( A hospital doctor then training under Dr Hakim). Relationships with key professionals were established and an assessment of training needs was made.

The hospital was found to be very basic with amazing staff struggling to cope with enormous needs in very difficult circumstances.

On return the Charity started fundraising, giving presentations , prioritising needs and planning visits. Fundraising was extensive both on and off the Island including grant applications to National and International Organisations.

The Link worked with partners in Juba as well as International funders

Rapid progress was made to establish the School of Nursing and Midwifery, the Postgraduate Medical Education Centre, a 6 bedroom bungalow for Trainers and a 5 Year Postgraduate Medical Education Strategy.

Many multidisciplinary visits have taken place,including

Medicine

Surgery including trauma and anaesthetics and female fistula repair

Midwifery

Mental health

Nurse Education and Practical ward based nursing

Medical Assistant training.

Training the Trainers Course

Also the Link has supported valuable visits to UK for Senior Doctors .

Various student and postgraduate electives to Juba have been  arranged with advice from the Link

The last visit to Juba  was in late 2014 just before the current Civil Strife broke out.

Two parallel courses were run for a week twice  each in trauma management and mental health . 50 newly qualified doctors attended. They were assessed  and given certificates of attendance and satisfactory performance.

There was an ongoing strong plan to cover all specialities over the years. The aim was to ensure these doctors could practice competently and independently  both inside and outside the hospital setting. They would then be in a position to enter speciality training including Primary Care.

Sadly the ongoing Civil War has meant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice has been to avoid all travel to South Sudan. Thus, as a UK Charity,  further visits could not be supported.

The Charity has however remained active. It has  supported several South Sudanese doctors in gaining speciality training in neighbouring East African countries through donations to the Gordon Memorial Fund. These doctors are committed to return to South Sudan with their new skills.

The Trainers Bungalow has now come under the management  of the Postgraduate Director and Dean, Professor Richard Bregazzi . We have in recent years worked closely with him. He has led in the formation of the UK Alliance for Health Education Development for South Sudan which was officially launched this Autumn in London. 

The Juba Link Trustees  have taken the difficult decision to close on successful completion of the objectives set 10 years ago. It is confident the UK Alliance will carry forward the work established by our Link and much work has already started  on e-learning and distance teaching. As soon as peace emerges training visits will recommence. We hope Isle of Wight Health staff will take part in this in future years.

The Link would like to sincerely thank residents of the Isle of Wight for their amazing generosity in support of the Link, this enabled so much to be achieved. Also to all those who have worked tirelessly for the Link in the UK and Juba including all the Life Friends , Trainers, Officers  and Trustees and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust. Thanks are due to our Juba partners who have received us so warmly on our visits and worked so enthusiastically,in partnership with us.

Fund raising has now stopped for the Link and Charitable status to be discontinued. Donations for health care in South Sudan remain open with many of the large International Charities.

Hopefully peace will start to emerge in South Sudan and we send our very best wishes to all healthcare workers and educators at Juba Teaching Hospital.

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