26 August 2010 – Aiming to ease health care delivery during the rainy season, UNICEF handed over four motorboats to Upper Nile State Ministry of Health officials today in Malakal.
"UNICEF donated these boats for vaccination campaign, transporting health workers to villages along the river, and for patients who need to be taken to Malakal (from neighbouring counties) for further health treatment," said UNICEF Child Protection Officer Emmanuel RetChol.
Also attending the ceremony were State Minister for Health Stephen Lor, Minister for Information and Communication Peter Lam and UNICEF Logistics Officer Aban Ajak.
"It was difficult to take patients from villages, especially those along the Nile and Sobat rivers to Malakal due to transportation problems," noted Minister Lor. "I hope with the boats provided by UNICEF we can take the patients to Malakal immediately for further treatment now."
During the rainy season from May to November, Malakal roads become impassable due to flooding, forcing residents to rely on boats for transportation. In future, the ministry plans to equip each county with a boat, said Mr. Lor.
"We have a malaria outbreak in Upper Nile State at the moment," the minister said. "In July, there were five malaria cases in Baliet. Four patients died and one survived."
Three of the boats will be stationed in Nasser, Baliet, and Kodok.
"UNICEF will monitor the activity of these boats for the period of three years and after that the state government will be fully responsible," said Mr. Ajak.
According to the UNICEF logistics officer, the boats were purchased at a cost of SDG 16,000 ($6,500) each. UNICEF has also donated a boat to Akobo County in Jonglei State.
International Medical Corps, a United States-based non-governmental organisation, has pledged to donate another four motorboats for health care in the area.
Upper Nile State has seven county hospitals and one state hospital. Cholera, meningitis, malaria, tuberculosis and kalaazar are endemic in the state, while maternal and infant mortality continue to take a heavy toll.