Access to healthcare vital for women’s protection say Maiwut communities

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In Maiwut, some 53 community members came together to discuss sustainable community-based solutions to overarching protection concerns at a workshop hosted by UNMISS. Photo by Ines Surwumwe/UNMISS

20 Mar 2024

Access to healthcare vital for women’s protection say Maiwut communities

Ines Surwumwe

UPPER NILE – Some 53 women and men gathered for two days in Maiwut, in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state with a singular purpose: To create a roadmap of protection of civilians concerns and identify sustainable community-based solutions.

Participants were part of the blended population of Maiwut, including host communities, returnees from Ethiopia and Sudan, youth, women representatives, and community leaders, who discussed key issues related to reintegration, displacement, and livelihood opportunities for all.

“We live peacefully in Maiwut but we realized that if we do not address our day-to-day challenges, they could, in future, threaten our harmonious coexistence,” said Chol Jok Deng a 27-year-old youth representative.

Conversations revealed that women and children are deprived of proper healthcare.

“As women, one of our biggest concerns is the lack of health facilities. While delivering my last child, I had severe complications and we had to go to Ethiopia for treatment almost immediately after I gave birth,” revealed Nyawaw Majiok, a mother of four.

“It is prohibitively expensive to go to other countries for health issues. But even more importantly, it becomes a matter of life or death for many women have childbirth related complications and we desperately need a fully equipped clinic for women to be safe and healthy,” added Nyayan Gach, a women’s representative.

Other protection concerns spoken about affected the entire community at large—lack of education and job opportunities for youth; petty crime and gang violence, access to roads; the rising cost of commodities; and the need for trauma healing.

Chol Jok Deng who returned to Maiwut last year from Ethiopia spoke about his inability to find a job, despite having trained as an engineer. “I returned to my homeland to give back to my community, but it is not easy. Very few companies are recruiting qualified young people and it’s come to a point where I am again looking for opportunities abroad,” he said.  

Participating community members also highlighted the need for accurate and verified information on ongoing political developments related to the permanent constitution-making process as well as upcoming elections. “We don’t have internet, radio or newspapers in Maiwut and our primary mode of communication are mobile phones. But word of mouth can spread mis- and disinformation at this tricky time so we must be careful about what we share,” cautioned Thing Stephen Reat, Maiwut payam administrator. “We hope our access to information improves soon because it’s an important year for our country,” he added.

Such workshops, according to Olaide Omideyi, a Protection, Reintegration and Transition Officer working with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), enable the UN Peacekeeping mission to raise community concerns to national levels.

Similar workshops are planned for Renk and Manyo counties.