Marie Stopes International Australia

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Family planning in South Sudan

Mary, now 21, became pregnant a few years ago when she was still at school. She had to drop out for a while, but determined to complete her education, she moved to Juba.

Mary came to a Marie Stopes outreach session because she wanted a long lasting method of contraception to stop her worrying about another unplanned pregnancy. After counselling, she chose an IUD which she was able to have fitted free of charge.

Mary earns a living brewing alcohol with other women in her compound, but since the crisis started in December 2013, they’ve had very few clients and are earning only a dollar or two a day. Some days Mary can’t afford to eat so she felt that another child would make her life even more precarious.

Providing choice in a fragile state
In South Sudan, Marie Stopes International have been adapting outreach models, in rural areas and the capital city, to respond to the pressures of a fragile state.

Getting our services to the most remote parts of South Sudan is challenging: the country’s roads are in a state of disrepair, during the seven month rainy season many become impassable, and the risk of violence is high. But by partnering with the UN humanitarian air service, we are able to fly our teams to isolated areas, where women would otherwise be out of reach.

South Sudan’s capital, Juba, can be a difficult city to move around, because of both the infrastructure and the prohibitive cost of transport. So, we’ve set up small mobile teams who travel to its peripheries – where we know residents can’t afford travel or healthcare – to provide services that would otherwise be unavailable in public clinics. Since the crisis in December 2013, the same teams are visiting camps for internally displaced people in the city where they work in partnership with the humanitarian NGOs responsible for general healthcare, ensuring that sexual and reproductive health and rights are integrated into the basic package of care.

Alongside delivering contraception, we provide hands-on training to local health workers. Given the fragility of South Sudan, it’s imperative that we build capacity so that services can still be offered in times of instability.

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