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How did you become interested in the health care
challenges facing South Sudan?
While working as an expatriate provider in South
Sudan, I was overwhelmed with the suffering caused
by a lack of health care. I have come to the realization
that educating health care professionals and working
together with South Sudanese leaders to create a vision
and plan for a health care system offers the best hope
for a brighter future.
What is the health care situation like in South
After decades of invasion and war, South Sudan has been
left without any semblance of a modern health care infrastructure. There is a terrible shortage of South Sudanese
physicians and nurses, and patients have no access to
quality secondary or tertiary care hospitals. Expatriate
organizations have provided most of the care that is available, but many of these organizations have withdrawn
from South Sudan due to ongoing violence and political
unrest. The vast majority of the South Sudanese population has no access to quality health care.
What is the ratio of physicians to patients in
There is a severe shortage of medical workers within
South Sudan. According to the World Health Organization, there may be as few as one trained physician
per 65,574 people. 1
What are the predominant health care issues fac-
ing South Sudan?
South Sudan faces many health care issues as a
result of an intense workforce shortage, poor
public health infrastructure, and violent conflict. 2, 3
Approximately 63 percent of total deaths for all ages
and both sexes are due to “communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional conditions,” while
injuries and other noncommunicable diseases each
account for 10 percent of total deaths for all ages
and both sexes. 4 Moreover, surgical diseases are
ubiquitous, and the use of surgical interventions to
treat health-related issues are increasingly in more
demand within South Sudan.
How many trips have you personally made to
After traveling to South Sudan as a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, and subsequently establishing
FDSS, I have been to South Sudan on three separate
occasions, for as long as three months at a time.
How did you get funding for FDSS?
FDSS is an approved 501(c)( 3) not-for-profit organization. We initially relied upon personal funds, but have
now received help from dozens of individual donors.
At this time, we have not been successful in obtaining
DR. WAXMAN AND FDSS
A baby with a bowel obstruction.
The family refused surgery and
took the baby home to die.
A young man with tetanus. Because no critical care was
available, the patient would die within hours.