Given the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world, the Government of the Republic of South Sudan through the Ministry of Health (MoH) is committed to providing comprehensive and integrated Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services. Women and adolescents are important elements of the population. They need special attention and effective services with respect to sexual and reproductive health.
Victoria Victor is a 23 year old mother of a baby boy named Eliano. She is married and her husband is a bodaboda (motorbike) rider within Juba town .She is at present a student at St. Vincent de Paul Society Technical School pursuing a one year course in building and construction specializing in plumbing and tiling. “I love hands on work and that is why I enrolled for this course,” she informs. She further notes that construction is a male dominated field in Juba but she wants to break the glass ceiling. Her education is sponsored by well-wishers. “Education is a priority for me. Nothing will stop me from achieving my dreams. A major contributing factor to school dropout is early pregnancies, she highlights.”
Uptake of Family planning in South Sudan is very low rising minimally from less than 1% in 2004 to 4% in 2010, the second lowest rate in the world. The average unmet need for FP in Southern Sudan is about 1.37% of all women demanding contraception; only 28% of them are satisfied or have received the needed service.
As she delivered her baby boy Eliano one year ago, Victoria already knew as earlier reiterated that education was the only way she could transform her life. She shared this desire with her sister in-law who advised her about family planning methods available in Juba. “I did not want pregnancy to stand in the way of my pursuing a technical course. I therefore obtained information on birth spacing.”
Myths associated with family planning in South Sudan are such as; contraceptives cause barrenness, cancer, uterine problems and make a woman sick all the time. Despite these, Victoria’s husband has been receptive about birth spacing.
With the current economic situation in South Sudan, Juba has been experiencing a fuel crisis. This has affected the husband’s business making their financial status a bit limp. Consequently, she has made it clear to her husband that, “If you need more children you have to assure me that you will be well able to meet their basic needs.” She tells that she only needs three more children and these she can plan to have after 5 years.
Victoria is hopeful that with less worries about getting pregnant, she will get a job which will enable her to pay school fees for her child. She is determined to pursue her dreams now more than ever, explaining that the sky is her limit. She has also advised one of her friends who is also her classmate to follow the same path. This friend has chosen an implant that will last for three years as her contraception method. Contraceptives enable women to prevent unplanned pregnancies and to avoid sexual transmitted infections (STIs).
Health Pooled Fund’s (HPF) analysis of the District Health Information System (DHIS) data from November 2016 – May 2017 demonstrates that women in South Sudan prefer short term reversible family planning methods (condoms, oral contraceptives and Depo Provera injection). For longer term reversible methods, the three-year implant is requested more than the five-year implant. Permanent family planning methods were not requested for or available during the provided timeframe.