Swedish Red Cross Discusses Engaging with Women's Groups to Improve Access to Community-based Health in South Sudan

The organization sheds light on families returning to damaged villages post-war.

The Swedish Red Cross brought attention to the border areas between South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Central African Republic recently by discussing the challenges for locals to return to their homes after long-running tensions.

In 2013, displaced families from South Sudan started to return to their homes, only to find that they had been destroyed and that schools and clinics were burned down. Families continue to arrive to these locations today, where health care and education services are yet to be established.

The South Sudan Red Cress and International Federation of Red Cross, as well as the Red Crescent Societies, have started focusing on development programming. They have initiated community-based health care projects to strengthen communities in the aforementioned border areas. The organizations hope that communities will become stronger, healthier, and better resourced to rebuild their lives in these previously deserted areas by working with women's groups and focusing on community-based health activities. Two specific communities have been identified for the project: Birisi and Kumbobangi, due to their difficult location and inability to have access to health care.

The Women for Change Association in Birisi meets weekly to address the challenges facing their community.  They have built a new public health care unit, which they hope will make it easier to attract service providers to the area. According to the statement, the association says they are ready to build a school, but they are struggling to find teachers who are willing to live in the remote environment.

The South Sudan Red Cross will start training the women's groups on community-based health and first aid, thus equipping women with the skills to raise awareness and share knowledge on preventing malaria and diarrhea, the most common diseases in the area.

"The community-based health and first aid approach will increase people's participation and strengthen communities," said Jane Amal, community-based health care coordinator of the South Sudan Red Cross. "It will encourage community members to adopt practices to prevent common diseases. This is especially important since the communities don't have health facilities nearby."