JUBA, July 2 (Xinhua) -- The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said on Monday that South Sudan must prioritize investing more in reproductive health, especially family planning commodities like pills and condoms, to reduce high child and maternal mortality deaths.
Mary Otieno, UNFPA Country Representative, told journalists in Juba that they are working with the government to ensure that majority of mothers have access to family planning commodities such as pills and condoms to help them in child spacing and enable them to contribute to national development.
"We are working with government partners to ensure that women space their births, so that women don't give birth by chance but by choice. We make sure that we have family planning commodities like pills and condoms so that mothers can space their birth and be able to contribute to national development," she said in Juba.
South Sudan's maternal mortality death ratio remains among the highest globally, despite having decreased from 2,059 since 2006 to 789 per 100,000 live births, which is an improvement following sustained donor support that has seen the number of nurses and midwives rise from nine to over 600, according to the UN.
Otieno disclosed that the South Sudan ministry of health needs additional 6,000 midwives to shore up its fragile health system that has been further weakened by the more than four years conflict.
Meanwhile, Ashley Judd the UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador who visited the protection of civilian sites (Pocs) in the northern Bentiu town of Unity State hailed the interventions by humanitarian agencies which have helped create awareness on family planning among the internally displaced persons (IDPs).
However, Judd disclosed that at present South Sudan has the lowest modern family planning prevalence at 2.7 percent even lower than Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which increased from 6 percent in 2009/10 to 8 percent.
South Sudan has a population of 12 million people but conflict has displaced 4 million people leaving at least 2.5 million of these as refugees in neighboring countries.