Internet is a little better today, so I thought I’d post another brief update.
Yesterday while checking in for our flight from Juba to Yambio I had my bag tagged but didn’t know if that meant I could check it or not. I realized when I got to the plane that wouldn’t be a real concern, since my plane looked like something out of one of my sister’s nightmares.
I’m comfortable screwing any field cred I may have by admitting this flight was super exciting for me. I mean, getting in a little 8-seater plane and flying at 8500 ft across Southern Sudan pretty much reignited that secret desire I have to learn to fly small planes at some point in my life. Plus, it was bad ass to see the country from above, as well as experience the landscape change as we flew several hundred miles west.
The on the ground work the past two days has been pretty interesting as well. Tambura county is fortunate to actually have several midwives, so the number of births attended by skilled attendants is higher here than most other counties. On the flip side, due to some typical “Oooh, Africa” complications, although there is a rudimentary hospital here (there are about 30 in the whole country), there is no doctor at the facility.
But again, in the good news column, there is an HIV center here which actually dispenses ARTs (most places where HIV services are available in Southern Sudan only do counseling and maybe testing). It apparently manages about 600 cases, including a few people who travel from nearby CAR and DRC. That’s impressive seeing as there’s only about 2600 cases being treated in all of Southern Sudan. The need is much higher – prevalence is est 3.1%, with a pop. around 10mil = 310,000 cases, and that is expected to rise as diaspora return from neighboring countries where prevalence is much higher.
But don’t worry, in between our field work, we still broke for lunch today in order to watch the Royal Wedding. Not gonna lie, it was amusing to watch the Southern Sudanese male staff all watching and commenting on Kate’s dress, the choir boys’ singing, and the Queen’s disposition.
All in all, it’s been an interesting past couple of days, to say the least.