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The South Sudanese woman who is being detained at a Nairobi hospital. Photo by Voice of Reconciliation 98:4 FM

 

NAIROBI – A South Sudanese mother is pleading for help after being detained at a Nairobi hospital. Aluel James Deng says she had an emergency delivery and had twins at Ruai Family Hospital in Nairobi. She says when she could not pay the medical bill of 1.4 million shillings or about 13-thousand dollars, hospital authorities would not allow her to leave.

Reached by phone at the hospital ward in Nairobi, Aluel James Deng says three days ago she had an emergency delivery which forced her to be admitted to Ruai Family Hospital where she gave birth to twins.

On Thursday, Deng says the hospital served her with a medical bill totaling 1.4 million Kenya shillings, an amount she says she cannot pay.

“The most painful part is, this hospital is treating [me] like [I am] not a human being. How can a bill of three days become 13,000 US dollars? I am heartbroken because the father of the kids left me, maybe because of the bills, I don’t know. I am hurt also because my other children are with a neighbor”, she explained.

Deng says she moved to Nairobi in 2020 on the invitation of her husband, a Kenyan man she identifies as Samuel Otieno who she says is the father of the twins after she had two children by another man.

Deng says when Otieno disappeared and left her at the hospital with a towering medical bill, she turned to her parents but in vain.

“My dad is so hard to get hold of. I tried to get hold of him. My mum, I don’t know where she is, my sister I don’t know where she is. I am all alone. I tried to contact them. I tried, I tried. But can’t. All the numbers that they gave me, they are not going through so I am alone”, she said.

The 30-year old mother from Warrap State says after all her attempts to contact relatives and ask them to intervene failed, she turned to social media to tell her story.

An official in charge of client relations at the hospital confirmed to this program that a South Sudanese woman gave birth to twins at the hospital three days ago and she is not able to pay her bills. But the official declined to comment further saying he/she is not authorized to speak to the media. The official says the hospital would issue a statement later in the day.

We saw copies of several medical bills that Deng is expected to clear before leaving the hospital gate including charges for admission, ambulance, maternity, nutrition and pharmacy bills.

Reached by phone from the Kenya Capital Nairobi, Chol Ajongo, South Sudan Ambassador to Kenya, says he is aware of a South Sudanese woman who has given birth to twins at the hospital facing high medical bills but unfortunately, Ajongo says there is nothing the embassy can do.

“This is purely a family issue, a girl who is married to a Kenyan, who delivered in a hospital, we don’t know the details of why would the bill would kick to 13-000 US dollars as if somebody has done a heart operation. Embassy can do nothing. What is required of embassy, we come to assist our nationals when they have legal issues but not medical bills which is more or less something to do with maternity”, Ajongo said.

Ambassador Ajongo said he was able to reach Aluel’s father who is a Member of Parliament in the South Sudanese National Legislative Assembly. He said the father was not in position to help. This program wasn’t able to reach Aluel’s father immediately.

Deng is asking well-wishers for support.

“This is a real story. There is no conman. There is no conwoman. And I am seeking help from my people, from my South Sudanese people. And I know it is shameful but I had to come out. You can’t die in silence,” he said.

Someone who identified himself as Chelsea Badal has started a GoFundMe, a social media fundraising platform to help Deng raise money to pay her medical bills. At press time, GoFundMe account had only 63 dollars out of 15,000 dollars set as the target. - Sudans Post

Pupils attend the inauguration of Owinykibul central primary school in Eastern Equatoria state, on 20 July 2012. Photo Sudan Tribune

 

June 15, 2021 (JUBA) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday signed an agreement with South Sudan to provide meals to more than 530,000 children in schools across the country.

The WFP deputy country director for South Sudan, Adeyinka Badejo said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Ministry of General Education and Instruction is aimed at increasing enrollment, in addition to encouraging parents to keep children in school.

"We will be focusing on schools which are in more vulnerable areas where the level of food insecurity is high and where participation in education is low and where nutrition rates are concerning," he told reporters in Juba.

For his part, the Undersecretary in the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, Kuyok Abol Kuyok said the project will enable them to provide school meals to over half a million children in school across the country.

"This program is one of the strategies we have to improve education in South Sudan and we are very grateful to the World Food Program and donors," he explained.

The school feeding program was introduced before South Sudan attained independence from Sudan in July 2011 to enhance access to food. - Sudan Tribune

(ST)

Uganda's strict restrictions kept the first wave of the pandemic at bay – but now infections are spiking. Photo Sally Hayden /SOPA Images

 

Nine doctors have died of Covid-19 in Uganda in the last fortnight, as a devastating new wave of coronavirus infections sweeps over the country.

New cases have risen by 49 per cent in the last week in the country, by 8,574, or 18.7 per 100,000, according to the World Health Organization’s weekly epidemiological report – one of the highest figures in Africa, the only part of the world currently reporting rising infections. It comes on top of a 131 per cent increase in cases last week, too. 

Amid reports that hospitals are running out of beds and oxygen, The Observer newspaper on Wednesday said the Ugandan government was considering appealing for oxygen supplies to help save lives.  

Public health experts said the country was looking increasingly like the next India, which saw hundreds of thousands die as the health system collapsed earlier this year under its second wave. 

“Just like wild fire sweeping here! Oh, God!” tweeted Professor Peter Waiswa, a leading public health expert at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, accompanied by an image paying tribute to the nine doctors who have died. 

He told The Telegraph: “I think we are setting up an India situation where the health system is overwhelmed.” 

Professor Waiswa said he knows of many medical professionals who are sick, alongside members of his extended family. His sister-in-law died of Covid-19 on Wednesday. 

“Although the government is reporting less than 500 deaths so far since the pandemic began, I think right now we can no longer count them,” he said. “People are no longer dying in hospital, they are dying all over.” 

The latest numbers from the government suggest that 49 people died in the last 24 hours, but there are fears the numbers are higher, and rising. Official estimates suggest there have been 64,521 cases and 459 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Professor Waiswa said the jump in cases was caused by a combination of things, including new variants, such as the Delta variant first identified in India. That has come alongside a loss of focus on tackling the pandemic after the country did well in the first wave and then held elections, he said.  

A new lockdown was declared last week, but it was done hastily, meaning that many children at boarding schools - where there have been rising infections – headed home without notice, potentially spreading coronavirus into every corner of the country.

Vaccines are also scarce in Uganda, as in a number of countries in Africa, one of the key reasons the WHO has recently warned of the risks of a third wave hitting the continent.  

By the start of this week in Uganda, only around 900,000 jabs had been administered – covering less than 1.8 per cent of its 44 million people - and only 4,129 people were fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. 

The country’s 150,000 health workers were prioritised in the initial roll-out, but delays in the Covax scheme, which Uganda is relying on for its vaccines, mean that second doses have been hard to come by. Professor Waiswa said there had also been some hesitancy among healthcare workers. 

The loss of medical professionals is devastating in a country which has so few doctors. There are just 0.168 doctors per 1,000 people in the country, compared to nearly 2.812 in the UK. 

The nine doctors were described as “fallen comrades in the line of duty” by the Uganda Medical Association, which announced the deaths.

They included people like Dr Alex Mulindwa, a 33-year old physician with Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation, Uganda, who worked in a number of volunteer projects and who leaves behind a wife and two-year-old daughter. 

“Covid is gripping the nation of Uganda, taking invaluable community leaders like Dr Mulwinda,” said the Circle of Friends In Action non-governmental organisation. “What a fine young doctor gone too soon.”  

Dr Betty Mpeka, a leading malaria specialist at the Malaria Consortium, also died of Covid-19 last week. 

Professor Waiswa, who advises the Ugandan government on vaccines, said that healthcare workers were increasingly concerned about the dangers, and keen for jabs, but doses had effectively run out in the country. Covax is planning to deliver more doses and the Ugandan government has also raised money to buy vaccines in its own right, too, he said, but in the meantime, things look challenging.  

“I can’t see a way that we can come out of this as of now,” he said. “Because people can’t distance [as many have to leave the house to work], we don’t have the vaccine, and the hospitals are full.

"I think we are praying for some kind of natural process – as happens with epidemics – that this wave will go maybe in three months time or so. That is the only thing.” - , The Telegraph

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