News, encouragement and needs: insight into life and work at the National Institute of Health Sciences, Jonglei (NIHSJ)
Dr Stephen Madgwick (a retired GP from the UK) recently returned from visiting the NIHSJ: a training centre for clinical officers, nurses and midwives for South Sudan. The Institute is currently based in Kampala, due to the instability in the Jonglei region, but as the name indicates – the intention is to relocate to South Sudan when it is possible to do so. All Students are South Sudanese and will return to work in South Sudan on completion of their training; the aim of the Institute is to address the critical lack of health workers in the country which currently has fewer than 200 doctors to serve an area larger than France.
Dr Madgwick shared some thoughts on the Institute and his time there:
“I think this is an excellent project for Christians to be involved with. The strategic vision of training some key health workers for South Sudan, with all its need, is very well placed…a number of charities… would rather fund more needy people directly…the students are seen as achievers for where they’ve got to and thus not so needy. Personally, I think this is a very short sighted view as the country needs these well trained workers to help the very needy those charities want to support.”
The students are taught by a team of leading medics, headed up by Dr Anil Cherian, a consultant pediatrician from India. Teaching follows the South Sudanese curriculum and includes much practical experience in hospitals and primary health care centres. Dr Madgwick was struck by the high quality of the teaching and the commitment of the staff to the students.
“The teaching is of a high standard judging by the text books used, the students’ knowledge so far, and their work books. It is all well organised and innovative. I think there is a very good team of teachers, though of course they could do with more. I found they must work very hard to do all the preparation needed, both planning, preparing lessons and marking work done. It is a full time job for them, especially considering the non teaching time and commitment to the students they have.”
The Institute seeks to further the students’ faith as well as their academic work- they are invited to attend prayer meetings and bible study though there is no pressure to do so.
“Anil and Shalini’s (Anil’s wife, a consultant obstetrician) selfless Christian commitment is obvious. Although they do not proselytise, they do provide a shining example of practical Christian living and give the students opportunities to learn about Christianity. Those students, who are or become believers, are being equipped with very good tools to provide a good witness of Christian service back home.”
He also noted the good governance and accountability of the programme, concluding that “it’s an outstanding programme for Christians to support and people should have complete confidence that their donations are efficiently spent.”
Can you help?
We are hugely encouraged by good news of the students’ progress and of life at the Institute. But more resources are needed to sustain and expand this vital work. Today, a teenage girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than to finish her education; the need for trained South Sudanese medical staff committed to working in the country is urgent.
- For the continued provision of funding
- For Anil, Shalini and the rest of the team as they work long hours in the face of uncertainty and changing political environment
- For the students as they assimilate a huge volume of knowledge and experience. Pray that they would grow in their academic, personal and spiritual lives
- For establishment of the programme in South Sudan for the longterm