Roles of local healthcare workers in the humanitarian response in South Sudan: a literature review

Keywords: Localisation; sustainability; health system; conflict; South Sudan


Introduction: Armed conflict is devastating to the health system, is a public health concern and recovery is an enormous challenge. The independence of South Sudan in 2011 brought much hope. However, eight years later, the country is still at conflict with itself. Although rich in resources, it is ranked among the poorest in the world and depends on donor funding for most service delivery, especially health. In an international context, promoting the localisation of humanitarian aid and the integration of health services, there is a lot to learn from the roles being played by healthcare workers (HCWs) throughout the conflict in South Sudan.

Method: A literature review was conducted to identify the roles of local HCWs in South Sudan since 2011. Four databases were searched, grey literature sourced, and snowballing done to capture additional documents for a comprehensive analysis. Questions were adapted from the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme for qualitative and systematic reviews guided appraisals of the articles. Results were systematically coded, synthesised and summarised using a priori and emergent themes.

Results: The health system in South Sudan is very fragmented with heavy dependence on humanitarian aid. There is serious shortage in health workforce with heavy reliance on unskilled workers to fill in the gaps, mainly in rural settings. Although close collaboration exists among different stakeholders to deliver integrated services, poor infrastructure, insecurity, lack of capacity and donor dependency still poses a challenge towards localisation of aid and sustainability.

Conclusions: The literature reviewed for this study indicates that the road towards localisation of health care is possible but will depend highly on continued collaboration between the different contributors, integration of services, building capacity of the nationals, increased government funding and infrastructural development. Local involvement of HCWs by international agencies is paramount in ownership and sustainability of services.

Research Article

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2309-4613
print ISSN: 2309-4605