South Sudan Revises Its National Standard Treatment Guidelines to Improve Quality of Care At Community and Health Facility Levels

6 May 2019, Juba - In South Sudan, the health system faces growing health needs and limited resources.

Policy makers at various levels are engaged in designing cost-effective health interventions that ensure accessible and affordable quality healthcare for all, in particular the poor and vulnerable groups.

With support from WHO, the Ministry of Health(MoH) revised the South Sudan Standard Treatment Guidelines for Boma Health Teams, Primary Health Care Units, Primary Health Care Centers and Hospitals (SS-STGs). The revision reflects the current best practices, recommendations and procedures for appropriate management of common health conditions and drug use in South Sudan.

Standard Treatment Guidelines (STGs) are systematically developed statements that assist health care workers in public and private facilities in deciding on appropriate treatments for common health problems. They usually reflect the consensus on the best treatment options within a health care system and aim at influencing prescription practices of health care workers at all levels of care. They are critical tools for health care providers to give quality standardized care, minimize irrational medicine use and ensure safety and cost effectiveness. The revision of the SS-STGs was based on latest WHO recommendations as well as National, Regional and Global recommendations, guidelines and practices.

"The development and implementation of South Sudan Standard Treatment Guidelines (SS-STGs 2019) and the recently completed National Essential Medicines List (SSEML 2018) is a key milestone to improve health service delivery in the country", said Dr Ocan Charles, Health Policy Advisor who represented Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan at the opening of a three-day workshop from 2-4 May 2019. The technical consultative workshop was to review and validate the SS-STGs with 47 experts, clinicians and program managers drawn from MOH and partners at national and sub national levels.

He noted that the current National Standard Treatment Guidelines for Primary and Tertiary Health Care for South Sudan were last updated in 2006. Over the years, the MoH, WHO, and other partners have developed and/or revised a considerable number of health policy documents and guidelines for health service delivery. All these required inclusion and revision of the Standard Treatment Guidelines to ensure consistency and better quality of care.

STGs offer many advantages and benefits for the patients and clients (most important), healthcare providers, drug manufacturers (procurement agencies) and marketing agencies, and the policy makers and the legislative/regulatory system and government of the country, said Dr Ocan.

The revision of the NSTGs was made possible due to financial support from the European Union (EU) under the European Union-Luxembourg - WHO partnership for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in South Sudan. "We immensely appreciate the European Union for their continued support to South Sudan", said Dr Ocan.

While closing the workshop, Dr Richard Lino Laku, Director General for Policy, Planning, budgeting and Research, who represented the Undersecretary, noted that the revision of the SS-STGS was very timely as many implementing partners and health care workers have been requesting for the revised guidelines. The revised SS-STGs was much better than the older version since the revision was more participatory, widely consultative, bottom up and involved national experts, Dr Laku emphasized. The revised SS-STGs also include the guidelines for the Boma health teams who are rolling out Boma Health Initiative (BHI).

He underscored MoH's leadership commitment to ensure that the revised SS-STGs is implemented and used to improve delivery of quality health service in the country.

WHO will support the MOH and partners to ensure the finalization of the STGs, roll out the implementation and use of these guidelines to improve the quality of care at facility and community levels.

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