In the remote village of Kurgus in Sudan, a health centre has recently been rehabilitated. Originally constructed by villagers more than 20 years ago, it was just a small health unit without equipment or trained staff . When the centre became part of the Ministry of Health, the government provided drugs and health workers. The UN helped rehabilitate the centre and offered training courses for people like Itmad Osman Ali (36), who has worked as a midwife for eight years but benefitted from advanced training. “It was difficult to work here in the past” she says. “There was not enough equipment here, and we had relatives coming inside the delivery room and disturbing us while we were working. Now the room is clean, private and relaxed; and everyone but the mother and ourselves must wait outside.” Today, Itmad says she is comfortable and confident when delivering babies in the health centre. “I see all the pregnant women in the village once a month and educate them about proper hygiene and nutrition” she says. “We deliver about 15 babies a month.”

In the small fishing village of Ofud in Blue Nile State, Nafisa Abdallah (18) is one of 73 women who in 2009 completed an 18-month long midwife training programme. This provided theoretical and practical training bringing the number of registered midwives in Blue Nile State to 364. “When I heard about the midwife training programme being offered by the consortium I decided to go because I wanted to help my friends and relatives with their pregnancies” says Nafisa. “I have delivered more than 12 babies since then” she says proudly, “at first with the help of others and now on my own.” The course also focused on other issues such as literacy training, proper nutrition and awareness on issues such as tribal scarring and female genital mutilation. The midwives now act as advocates against these harmful practices when they return to their respective villages.

In other parts of the country, to reduce child mortality, medical supplies were distributed, and 41,000 people at-risk were vaccinated against meningitis. 1,300 health workers such as nurses, midwives and traditional birth attendants were trained. In south Sudan, early detection and disease response was strengthened with the result that all suspected and confirmed cases of outbreaks were effectively managed and the spread of outbreaks was contained.

In Darfur, 38,600 conflict-affected and displaced people accessed free, good quality health care through a referral system implemented by 80% of primary health clinics, to refer people to free hospital care. By 2009, all 11 rural hospitals supported by the partnership were able to perform major surgical operations, deliver emergency obstetrics care and perform caesarean sections (from 67% in 2007). All had the adequate essential and emergency medicines provided for free for targeted populations. Additionally, these hospitals implemented early warning and outbreak surveillance and response.