IOM concluded a two-day workshop in Juba, South Sudan on Friday, which brought together government officials from the Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development and Education, as well as international experts and other stakeholders to develop an action plan for engaging the country’s diaspora.
The workshop is part of IOM’s Enhancing South Sudan’s Human Resources for Health through Strengthened Engagement of Health Professionals in the Diaspora project, launched in February 2013 with the support of the IOM Development Fund. Through this initiative, IOM is providing technical support to the Government of South Sudan to develop a national diaspora engagement strategy for the health sector.
South Sudan has some of the lowest health indicators in the world. Less than 50% of the population has access to health care, and the country has only 1.5 medical doctors and 2 nurses for every 100,000 people – far below the WHO-recommended standard of 250 health workers per 100,000 people.
IOM aims to identify members of the South Sudanese diaspora with health skills and explore ways for involving them, both individually and through diaspora associations, in the transfer of knowledge and skills to South Sudan’s health care system, specifically health training institutes and medical colleges.
In July, an online survey (http://southsudandiasporaforhealth.org) was launched to begin gathering baseline information on South Sudanese health professionals in the diaspora. Over two hundred individuals have responded to the survey so far, registering their skill sets and their interest in sharing their knowledge.
The data gathered through the survey will help IOM and partners develop a programme for mobilizing the diaspora to support the health sector during the coming year. It is envisioned that this future initiative will include elements of a short-term skills transfer programme to further training and capacity building for health professionals in South Sudan through lectures, seminars and on-the-job training.
“There are many challenges for diaspora to return permanently. We recognize this and hope that this workshop will pave the way for the development of a diaspora-friendly government policy. Our ultimate goal is to encourage diaspora members to share their expertise with health professionals here in South Sudan,” said Dr. Lul P. Riek, Chairman of the Project Steering Committee and Director General for International Health and Coordination under the Ministry of Health.
IOM has extensive regional and global experience in assisting governments with strengthening their institutional capacities and realizing their development goals through the transfer of relevant skills and resources from the diaspora.