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Pilot Project Will Engage South Sudanese Diaspora Health Professionals

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, July 9, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Coinciding with the second anniversary of South Sudan's independence, IOM has launched the first stage of an initiative to strengthen the country's human resources for health by engaging health professionals in the South Sudanese diaspora.

The project, made possible by US$ 200,000 from the IOM Development Fund, seeks to identify members of the South Sudanese diaspora with health skills and explore ways for involving them, both individually and through diaspora associations, in the transfer of knowledge and skills to South Sudan's health care system, including health training institutes and medical colleges.

Decades of conflict have led to the virtual collapse of the health system in South Sudan, which has some of the lowest global health indicators. Less than 20% of the population has access to health care, and the country has only 1.5 medical doctors and 2 nurses for every 100,000 people – far below the WHO-recommended standard of 250 health workers per 100,000 people.

As a first step of the project, an online survey (http://southsudandiasporaforhealth.org ) has been launched in three pilot countries – Kenya, Uganda and Canada – to identify members of the South Sudanese diaspora with health skills and competencies in three pilot countries. This includes all health-related professionals, including physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, public health, nutrition and home care specialists.

The data gathered by the survey will provide evidence for the development of a programme for mobilising the diaspora to support the health sector during the coming years. It is envisioned that this future initiative will include elements of a short term skills transfer programme for the purpose of furthering training and capacity building for health professionals in South Sudan through lectures, seminars and on-the-job training.

“As South Sudan celebrates the second year of its independence, this is an opportunity for South Sudanese living abroad to make a difference in their homeland,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission Vincent Houver.

The project is being implemented by IOM in close collaboration with the Government of South Sudan's Ministry of Health, the Directorate of Consular Services under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Diaspora Desk under the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, the Ministry of Higher Education, and South Sudanese diaspora associations.

Since 2001, IOM has implemented the Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) capacity-building programme in a number of countries to assist in strengthening the institutional capacities of African governments to manage and realize their development goals through the transfer of relevant skills, financial and other resources of Africans in the diaspora for use in development programs in Africa.