UNMISS engineers renovate Abiemnhom Hospital to support the fight against COVID-19
After five years of war, Abiemnhom Hospital had been left in an appalling state.
It had no reliable electricity or water supply. Paint was peeling off the crumbling concrete walls. There were only minimal medical supplies to treat the thousands of people from villages across the Ruweng Administrative Area who rely on the hospital for care.
After seeing the dire situation first-hand while on a peacekeeping patrol to prevent intercommunal violence, Mongolian peacekeepers decided to come to the rescue by using their engineering expertise.
They repaired and painted walls, fixed the electricity supply and extended the cabling system so that it reaches all the hospital’s main rooms. The engineers created a special isolation room for COVID-19 patients, installed new water tanks, hand washing facilities, and donated a wide variety of medical supplies.
The support from the UNMISS peacekeepers will improve basic medical treatment for local residents as well as helping the community prepare for COVID-19 as the number of confirmed cases in South Sudan continues to rise.
“Our patients are mostly suffering malaria, malnutrition and death from home birth – these problems take a lot of lives from our people,” says Simon Mayor Chol, the Director-General of Abiemnhom Hospital. “But today, thanks to the support from the United Nations, we can say that we are more ready to respond to the medical demand.”
Many local women have suffered because of the lack of available health care.
“In the past, women stopped their medical visits after seeing the poor condition of our health facilities. This caused more death from home birth and children who died at an early age due to a lack of follow-up,” says Rajina Nyanyok, a senior pediatrician at Abiemnhom hospital.
She says the renovation of the delivery room by the UNMISS peacekeepers and new medical supplies will encourage more pregnant women to seek medical support as well as to receive education about family planning and antenatal care.
“It was most exciting to see a new baby who was safely delivered yesterday with less pain from her mother,” says Rajina Nyanyok. “The mother and the baby are in a good condition because the delivery was easier due to the materials received from the Mongolian peacekeepers.”
The efforts by the peacekeepers were motivated by a desire to support the community in the fight against COVID-19. The hospital staff and local authorities were particularly pleased with the addition of an isolation room.
“We have been advocating all measures of the COVID-19 because of the massive movement of trucks coming through from Juba or Kartoum which could see traders bring in the virus,” says Maker Kuol Thiep, the senior local government representative. “If we have even one suspicious case now, we have a room for isolation and the medical supplies from United Nations will provide additional help.”
The new hand-washing facilities are also appreciated by hospital staff and patients.
“It is very good to wash my hand and keep the social distancing as the hospital personnel told us. These measures will stop the spread of COVID-19,” says 65-year-old patient, Anastasia Abuk Bol, as she washed her hands before entering the hospital gate with her malnourished grandchild.
“I didn’t know about this disease, but I heard on radio that I need be vigilant because we, the elder people, are at high risk of the virus.”
The Head of the UNMISS Bentiu field office, Hiroko Hirahara, is urging the local authorities to help educate the community about the risks of the virus and how to prevent it. She promised the full support of the United Nations to prevent and respond to COVID-19.
“We will stand by you and provide any support that might benefit the local population. We are here, not only, to provide security but also to help you with improving local infrastructure, like health facilities and renovating roads,” says Hiroko Hirahara. “By working together, we can help protect ourselves and others in the fight against COVID-19.”