Medication is like food - Perceived healthcare needs and access to healthcare

This report provides an analysis of a medical anthropological assessment in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) in South Sudan. The assessment was conducted to map the population’s needs respecting and access to healthcare, factors influencing health-seeking behaviours, and the coping strategies developed to compensate for the absence of any formal healthcare provision.

The overview of findings addresses the following questions:

  • How Murle and Jiye perceive their own health/illness/disease and what the main persons/factors/elements that influence their health-seeking behaviours are.
  • What are the available options in terms of access to healthcare and traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM), and what are their coping mechanisms and strategies?

People’s treatment path first involves herbal self-treatment at household level, before navigating other available options, which are often nothing more than a small PHCU, a traditional healer or somewhere ‘outside’ their place of residence, which includes travelling (walking) to Kapoeta or Ethiopia. The PHCC in Boma is not an option considered as part of the health-seeking path because of a lack of equipment, materials and services, the interrupted drugs supply, insufficient human resources and a lack of trust towards the facility as a whole.

The local people have shown a high level of resilience, but they cannot solve the inadequate healthcare situation on their own. Dependence on the support of NGOs seems to be a precondition to improve access to healthcare. MSF is needed to assist both people in the GPAA and the formal health sector in providing accessible healthcare options to cope with their ailments. In that sense, ‘food’ is needed for survival because “medication is like food”.

Document Author(s)
Doris Burtscher
Support: John Kaka, Barbour Chacha, Alyssia Ferrarese, André Moret, Livia Tampenilli, Jesse Verschuere
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