South Sudan is focused on post-conflict reconstruction, including revitalization of the health sector. The Division is assisting the Government of Southern Sudan with training and resources to help improve care long-term for the most vulnerable in the region.
On July 9, 2011, South Sudan became the newest independent country in the world. The government of South Sudan is currently working to heal the enormous scars left by Africa's longest—and arguably bloodiest—conflict. South Sudan has the worst maternal mortality statistics in the world (2,054 per 100,000 births), and the prospects for child survival are similarly grim. With a population of 10.3 million, this country is in dire need of more health workers, especially physicians. In all of South Sudan, there are currently only 10 practicing obstetricians/gynecologists and 4 pediatricians. Today, there is only one medical school in the country—the University of Juba College of Medicine, in Juba.
The South Sudan Medical Education Collaborative (SSMEC) is aimed at alleviating the human resource crisis at the University of Juba College of Medicine and enabling the training of quality physicians for South Sudan. The College of Medicine is the only medical school in all of South Sudan and as such is responsible for training doctors to care for over 10 million people. Residents from Mass General and medical students from Harvard Medical School, Albany Medical College, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have taught courses in the biomedical sciences to the Sudanese medical students under the supervision of the sole permanent faculty member at the College of Medicine in Juba.
Since March 2010, nine volunteer residents and medical school student instructors have taught a variety of courses in subjects such as functional anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and neuroscience at the University of Juba College of Medicine. These SSMEC instructors have introduced new teaching and learning techniques to the students including role-playing sessions, which allowed the students to practice their exam techniques on one another under the supervision of the instructors. SSMEC also facilitated a course in community medicine that included lectures from representatives of the Government of Southern Sudan's Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, Save the Children, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The course introduced the medical students to the major public health challenges in South Sudan and how they can act to address these issues. In addition their work in the classroom, SSMEC instructors have coordinated the establishment of a small medical school library and two basic medical college classrooms as well as provided numerous teaching supplies. SSMEC is continuing this relief effort while also exploring sustainable options for the long term, such as faculty development track at the University of Juba and collaborations with the University of Nairobi Medical School.
SSMEC’s current project is to secure housing for the University of Juba’s 300 medical students, many of whom are homeless and regularly go hungry. The medical students, with the support of the Division, recently completed construction of a prototype house that four students now call home. SSMEC has partnered with Students for Students, an organization of Harvard University students, to actively raise funds for the construction of more student housing and the development of ways to make the housing environmentally and financially self-sustaining.