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Feature International Health

South Sudan: a nation born in crisis

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 15 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3726
  1. Peter Moszynski, freelance journalist
  1. 1Juba, South Sudan
  1. globewisecom{at}

Civil unrest is once again threatening health as South Sudan prepares for independence, writes Peter Moszynski

On 9 July, South Sudan will become the world’s newest country and the United Nations’s 193rd member state. It will also be one of the poorest, with some of the world’s worst socioeconomic indicators. Decades of war, neglect, and lack of development have left 9 out of 10 women illiterate, and the nascent state has among the world’s highest rates of maternal and infant mortality and remains a reservoir for many neglected tropical diseases such as leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis, and guinea worm.1

The situation had begun to improve in the six years since Sudan’s warring parties signed a peace agreement. But since last January’s referendum on independence for South Sudan, in which 98% of southerners voted peacefully to secede, the political, military, and humanitarian situation has deteriorated seriously, culminating in last month’s invasion of the contested border area of Abyei by northern Sudanese armed forces and the displacement of most of its indigenous population.2 The UN estimates that nearly 100 000 people have been displaced, and the conflict …

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