South Sudan's limited healthcare infrastructure is contributing to one of the highest child and maternal mortality rates in the world and worsens as internal conflict destabilizes the country Read on


December 2013. Fighting erupts in the capital city of Juba. The world's youngest nation is soon engulfed in ethnically charged civil war.

9 July 2011

South Sudan gains independence from Sudan following the longest civil war in contemporary African history

1.5 million

total number of individuals displaced in South Sudan since renewed fighting in December 2013 according to the UNOCHA


number of children that UNICEF estimates have been recruited to fight on both sides of the conflict

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South Sudan is battling one of the highest child and maternal mortality rates in the world - owed largely to a lack of qualified healthcare workers, under-developed infrastructure, regional conflict and challenges reaching vulnerable populations.


share of diarrhea-related deaths of children under 5 that could be prevented with inexpensive oral rehydration salts


the percentage of children born in South Sudan that do not reach their first birthday


South Sudan's maternal mortality rate, the world's highest

55 years

average life expectancy in South Sudan

189 + 1,800

number of doctors and nurses, respectively, serving 10 million South Sudanese

US $27 per year

average per capita government spending on healthcare in South Sudan (compared to sub-Saharan average of US $96 per year and N. American/European average of US $6,000 per year)


percentage of South Sudanese who live beyond walking distance to a clinic

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Social enterprise models for health are showing potential to reverse South Sudan's child and maternal health crisis through illness prevention and economic empowerment.

US $943

South Sudan's low GDP per capita, whereby half the population lives below the national poverty line


estimated number of community health workers operating in South Sudan


average number of patients served by one community health worker

Child and maternal mortality: a preventable crisis

Fortunately, child and maternal mortality are linked to largely preventable and treatable conditions such as malaria, diarrheal diseases, respiratory diseases and malnutrition. Immunizing against infectious diseases and providing mothers with basic health education and medication are significantly reducing mortality rates. According to the World Health Organization, developing countries have seen a 45% reduction in maternal mortality since 1990.

Community health workers (CHWs) play a valuable role delivering healthcare knowledge, goods and services that can combat child and maternal mortality in developing countries. By deepening our collective understanding of social enterprise models that show promise for creating change at scale, we hope to inspire and support organizations working to give vulnerable populations better access to health products and knowledge.

Learn more about our projects:

  • South Sudan Physician Organization: Pilot Project
  • BRAC South Sudan: Randomized Controlled Trial Research