, 28 July, 2020 / 10:16 PM
The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in South Sudan has embarked on an initiative that will see undergraduate medical students provide home-based care for patients who exhibit flu-like symptoms in a bid to relieve strain on medical facilities in the East-Central African country.
The initiative is aimed at engaging learners who have remained redundant as schools remain closed as part of the measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the nine-year-old country, officials of CRS South Sudan have said in an interview with ACI Africa Tuesday, July 28.
Last week, on July 23, CRS secured partnerships with other humanitarian actors to scale up food production in urban areas and to provide vouchers for vulnerable groups who cannot produce food of their own.
During the July 28 interview, South Sudan CRS Country Representative, John O’Brien said that in addition to the monthly cash transfers by the Catholic charity organization, the cash program would support home-based care for flu-like symptoms through the deployment of undergraduate medical students as social workers.
Medical students will be drawn from four medical schools in Juba and their short training will be carried out by the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Mr. O’Brien said.
According to the CRS leader in South Sudan, the medical volunteering students, set to be provided with a monthly stipend, will together with the CRS team, assist in painting of murals to communicate information on COVID-19 to local communities and distribution of hygiene kits for vulnerable households.
Additionally, the humanitarian team will reach out to those at greatest risk of developing severe complications due to COVID-19 and (therefore) strongly recommended to self-isolate, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.
To prioritize activities of the intervention in eight neighborhoods of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, CRS has targeted the most impacted areas by public health restrictions and those that should be shielded from COVID-19 in the East-Central African nation.
Hinting on the selection criteria for target populations, the CRS official said, “The neighborhoods were selected because of their high population density, high concentration of vulnerable households and CRS’ previous experience working in these neighborhoods.”
On the CRS cash Program, O’Brien told ACI Africa that the project had brought several partners on board, each with a distinct responsibility.
“CRS will deliver the project in collaboration with the World Food Program which will lead in food assistance while the Food and Agriculture Organization will lead in urban gardening,” he explained.
He added, “The project will meet the basic food and non-food needs of 7,500 households through the provision of monthly cash transfers. The monthly cash transfer value will be indexed to the National Multi-Sector Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (MSSMEB).”
Mr. O’Brien further said that the four-month project, which is funded by USAID Food for Peace will also benefit workers who have lost their sources of income due to COVID-19 restrictions in the country.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa