By Okech Francis
Lobong Emmanuel Mule commands a jubilant mood as he stares down at his academic result.
The 21-year-old just accomplished one step in his journey to become an accomplished medic in South Sudan, a country with the poorest health system on earth.
His papers manifested five As and a B in the subjects Mule sat for. He has passed as a registered nurse.
“I am so happy for the results I got so far because it has not been easy,” Mule, who studied at St Mary’s Health Science Training Institute in South Sudan’s capital Juba told Juba Echo in an interview.
Opened in 2012, St Mary Health Science Training Institute is fast becoming a household name in South Sudan.
It’s first national exams in 2017 was a marvel as students passed a 100 percent, a record that echoed in the subsequent years till 2021.
“Actually, we are seeing a great change each year our students do exams,” Ouma Tom Tombe, the General Secretary who doubles as the administrator of the institute told Juba Echo.
The institute offers courses in Registered Nursing, Registered Midwifery, Clinical Health and Public Health at the level of a diploma. It is set to role out other courses including Counselling and Guidance soon.
“Our interest for this institute, we are here to train professional health workers who will be able to provide better health for South Sudan,” Tombe said.
“We are here to provide affordable quality training in health.”
True to his words, students, mostly women include the vulnerable who are sponsored by communities and organisations.
They include citizens from neighbouring countries too.
St Mary’s provides career guidance and encourages its students to ensure they are well equipped to meet the challenges facing the health sector.
This year, 134 rolled out of the institute in nursing and midwifery, with 112 of them females.
According to Tombe, some international organisations operating in South Sudan are already requesting for their services.
Six years of crisis in the country destroyed further a health department that was already struggling. The crisis also left 400, 000 people dead and displaced four million others, disrupted revenue sources and left the economy in chaos.
The health sector remains badly under par despite a peace deal with is being implemented.
“It is true we are seeing a poor health sector in South Sudan. The most important thing is having educated people and who are willing to serve,” Tombe said.
St Mary’s thrives to take up the role to ensure quality staffs in the health sector across the country, he said.
For Mule, the As and B are just not the end of the road. His plans are to translate them into the health and happiness of South Sudanese.
“One day I went to the hospital and saw patients suffering and not being helped and I saw that it is not good for human beings to suffer like that,” Mule said.
“I read something in the papers about this school and I said this is the right place to make me help the suffering people,” he said.
“And I still believe this is the right place. I also encourage more people out there to come and join, get skills to help the community.”
Like Mule, Paya Susan Newton too score five As and a B in her exams.
“Right from first year, it was my dream to pass the final exams and now that I made it, I thank God,” Newton told Juba Echo in an interview.
“My plan is to get some work, save and upgrade,” she said.
Newton had a word for St Mary Institute.
“I like studying here because of the good teaching and the way they give us practical,” She said.
Annet Modong Gale Lomudu claimed four As and a D in her exams and was all ecstatic.
“They are teaching well here, they have good teachers qualified to teach,” Lomudu said of the Institute.
“I am proud and this place will ever have fresh memories in my life.”