They provide preventative and curative services to rural populations in health centres and hospitals.
In South Sudan, there are less than 100 doctors to serve a population of approximately 10 million. However, Amref Health Africa has trained nearly 300 clinical officers, who currently account for for over 70% of clinical officers in the whole country.
Amref Health Africa opened Sudan’s Maridi National Health Training Institute at the height of the civil war in 1998; the first group of students graduated in 2001. To date, a total of 268 clinical officers have graduated from the institute.
The three-year course in public health care, nursing care and surgical procedure covers anatomy, orthapedics, and pathology to pharmacology, psychology and psychiatry. It produces skilled and well-rounded medical professionals, able to diagnose and treat illness, perform surgery and educate communities.
As a result of the war, many of the students have been unable to complete secondary school. Consequently, the course now incorporates foundation courses in maths, English and biology.
Most of the students come from some of the remotest areas of Southern Sudan and are especially keen to put their new skills to use back in their communities. According to a recent survey, 99% of graduates from the Maridi National Health Training Institute have remained working in South Sudan. A major factor in this high level of retention was reported to be recognition from the communities and the opportunity to work in hospitals, which were previously the preserve of doctors.
Grace Konga is training to be a clinical officer at the Maridi National Health Training Institute. She says "I wish more young women could be trained as clinical officers to help curb the women health issues like HIV/AIDS, ante-natal care, child health and nutrition in Southern Sudan." Read Grace's story