Medical cost in South Sudan is alarming
By Loro Louis Yugu
Many families in this country are unable to afford medicines. The health situation of many children and women is grim due to the high cost of basic drugs in private clinics. It has become a common practice that when you go to a government hospital, the doctors there only prescribe drugs and the patient has to bear the cost at a nearby pharmacy. This is the situation in Juba and many other towns in South Sudan.
I consider it a true health-related crisis triggered by the economic meltdown that was brought by the senseless war in this country. With sharp poverty line in many households, citizens are left to battle with numerous sicknesses because of the harsh economic situation. Others die simply because of the lack of essential medicines in nearby Primary Health Care units.
Many South Sudanese are shocked by the financial crisis and as such, it is not a miracle nowadays for you to see your loved one dying due to the high cost of medicines in this country.
Those who have the power seek healthcare in foreign countries. And the poor has to wonder in agony when mere malaria strikes the family.
It has become very difficult to manage the day-to-day needs health needs. The citizens only think of the daily bread and pray for all sicknesses not to affect any of their family members.
Generally, majority of South Sudanese feel that their financial status has worsened since the onset of the war in 2013.
There has never been a day that I went to the hospital and got every service available. Of all the prescriptions, at least one has to be referred to a private clinic for ultrasound, X-ray, ESR, and many other medical examinations.
These are all expensive medical services that should be made available by the government for the ordinary citizens.
Most of the government hospitals only possess painkillers such as Ibrufene, paracetamol and other antibiotics mostly donated by church organizations and these are the ones keeping the hospital afloat.
A hospital is only a hospital when it has all the human medicines for the upkeep of the health status of the citizens in the country, otherwise we will continue to die from curable diseases such as malaria, meningitis, diarrhoea, cholera, headache and many others. What sometimes beats my understanding is when a patient is referred to a private clinic to buy a mere paracetamol.
The Ministry of Health should step up efforts in reducing the cost of treatment for the locals who are struggling daily to bring food on the table for their children and the rest of the family members.
Hospitals are particularly important in a poverty troubled country like South Sudan. A strong health system means strong and healthy nationals. And a country with healthy citizens will witness ultimate development within a short period of time.
The Ministry of Health should pursue upstream interventions to minimize downstream costs. There should be a major push to make healthcare for low-income individuals less irritable and more practical.
There is also need to strive to reach patients who can’t afford to pay their medical bills. Let us not continue to lose lives of innocent citizens due to lack of basic medicines.