Providing Quality of Care in Fragile and Vulnerable Settings: Lessons from South Sudan

Kevin Gianaris, Jacob Atem, Allison P. Chen, Alexander H. Chang, Anna Russell, Edbert B. Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report concerning planning and actions to provide quality of care in fragile, conflict-affected, and vulnerable areas. South Sudan, the world’s newest country, has encountered both natural and man-made disasters in recent years that have posed marked challenges to delivery of care. The Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization (SSHCO) operates as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in this setting, delivering and improving healthcare through war, flooding, and infectious outbreaks. Objective: The goal of this paper is to highlight the challenges faced in providing care in South Sudan from an NGO perspective and apply the recent WHO guidelines on quality of care to optimize practical implementation. Method: Each of the WHO’s eight elements for quality of care in South Sudan were examined in relation to the experience of SSHCO from 2013–2021. Analysis included: 1. summary of the WHO element; 2. examples of successful implementation; 3. barriers to implementation; and 4. recommendations to improve implementation. Findings: The team found that communication and coordination were the most important aspects of improving quality of care in South Sudan. These should be prioritized and include intergovernmental partners, the local and national Ministry of Health (MOH), NGOs, and community stakeholders. Communication and coordination should foster community engagement, improved data collecting and reporting, and sharing of publicly accessible information. Better clinical staff training and governance are also required to ensure the most effective use of limited resources. Conclusion: South Sudan faces many barriers to quality of care with communication and coordination identified among the foremost issues. Practical application of the WHO elements of quality of care can assist NGOs in effectively identifying areas for improvement to deliver better quality essential health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126
JournalAnnals of global health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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