The Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) is one of the fastest growing churches in the Anglican Communion and yet remains one of the poorest Provinces in terms of access to social services and economic development. It comprises of 24 Dioceses and 28 Bishops with more than 5 million adherents.
South Sudan forms a third of the Countrys area with an estimated area population of 10,000,000 (WFP/SRRC fig) out of whom 70% are between the age of 14 and 49 years. Due to the protracted civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army SPLM/A, many people have either sought refuge in neighbouring countries or other countries of the world. In January 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) was reached between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) bringing an end to civil strife of fifty years.
HIV/AIDS Situation in South Sudan
An assessment by the UNAIDS puts the HIV infection rate at 2.6 percent of the country population. These are expected to grow drastically with the return of refugees from the neighbouring countries. In a study done by the ECS in the months of June and July 2003, it was noted that the level of awareness amongst the population of South Sudanese was only about 5%. This alarming low level of awareness prompted the ECS to put more effort and seek expert partnership to create more awareness on the HIV/AIDS all over the Province. The level of ignorance on the pandemic that exists in Southern Sudanese communities portrays the current situation on the level of knowledge of HIV/AIDS global scourge in South Sudan. Currently, it is difficult to assess accurate number of people living with HIV/AIDS in South Sudan, though there are suspected cases, as survey is yet to be done.
There is need to establish a secretariat to addresses the issue of HIV/AIDS in South Sudan and raise the level of awareness on the pandemic in collaboration with 24 Dioceses of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. The ECS HIV/AIDS coordination office will work closely with organisations already running HIV/AIDS programmes in South Sudan.
The overall goal of the programme would be to raise the level of awareness on the existence, nature of transmission and social economic impact of HIV/AIDS within the communities, which could then result in the prevention of the transmission of the pandemic.
Challenges within the Context of Sudan
Technical assistance will be needed to train ECS HIV/AIDS project staff, church and community leaders, youth and women groups, health workers as trainers of trainers on certain aspects of community-based HIV/AIDS interventions. Consultants and other organisations will be attached to ECS HIV/AIDS project programme to help identify gaps in skills and capabilities and strategise how to address these. This arrangement will ensure the continuity of skills and capacity development for communities.
The ECS HIV/AIDS Programme coordinator from the outset will work closely with the health coordinators of all the organisations who run hospitals in South Sudan. The hospitals, which have laboratories, will be the focus for blood specimen collection and testing while together eighty-three Primary Health Care facilities will be the focus for PMTCT and anti-retroviral therapy.
UNICEF/OLS NGOs consortium is the overall body in which ground rules regarding operations of programme in South Sudan are formulated and coordinated. The ECS HIV/AIDS operational office in South Sudan will work closely with the consortium and follow existing operational guidelines as much as possible.
NGOs runnning HIV/AIDS Programs insideSouth Sudan especially WHO and in the neighbouring countries will be consulted frequently so that work plans and seminars SRRC being the humanitarian wing of the SPLM will play a role through the county health departments and the New Sudan HIV/AIDS council.
Procedure for Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation of the programme shall be accomplished by using the following mechanism: