Social Insurance Benefit Uplifts Rural Health in South Sudan’s Turalei

Ring Atem Ring signed out of work with the health charity, Medecin Sans Frontiers in 2013, and took home a 25,000 South Sudanese Pounds benefit in Health Insurance
Ring Atem Ring in the pharmacy at his health facility. Photo by Deng Athian

By Deng Athian

Ring Atem Ring signed out of work with the health charity, Medecin Sans Frontiers in 2013, and took home a 25,000 South Sudanese Pounds benefit in Health Insurance.

With 15,000 SSP from that money, Ring is now the Chief Executive Officer of “German Two” clinic in Akoc in Twic County of South Sudan’s Warrap State.

Ring vividly recalls his situation and that of his kinsmen when he embarked on the health initiative in 2014.

 “Our village did not have any hospital and our people were suffering and so I established a clinic to help my community,” Ring told The Dawn in an interview from Turalei.

“I was financially struggling, not like today where I have people I employ and have a big business I supervise,” he said.

Ring now owns a business facility worth $40,000, complete with dispensary, admission department, consultation, laboratory and pharmacy.

“My business worth is good and now I buy drugs with millions of pounds,” he said.

‘Bit by bit makes a bundle’ is a saying that aims at success by starting small. It has been tested by millions and proven very successful. Just like the saying, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.’

In China, there is a similar saying which goes, “the first thing to do is start and the second is to continue.” This is about ‘life changing’ and explains that despite all the coordination, variables, and skills that a project might require, it really is simple as that, “just show up, and keep going.”

Opening up the private sector to make personal steps towards their own development, China unveiled a whole new world which triggered a rapid economic development.

According to Katharina Buchholz, a data journalists, the private sector is currently China’s main economic driver.

Buchholz says the Communist Party which has been ruling since 1949 has made China a rapid developing country through its policy guide on the private sector development and that China’s economic miracle, which included rapid urbanization, industrialization and exploding GDP figures, transformed the country into one of the leading world powers.

Data gathered by McKinsey & Company shows that in the past 20 to 25 years, the share of Chinese urban employment supported by private enterprises more than quadrupled from just 18 percent in 1995 to 87 percent in 2018. Exports created by the private sector also more than doubled from 34 percent to 88 percent.  

Again, years of peace under the Communist Party in China has been a main attribute to sprouting individual economic growth.

South Sudan is also gearing to a very peaceful country after years of conflict. A peace agreement running in Juba has already pacified the country and is expected to lead to democratic elections next year.

While the country’s economic situation and ongoing conflict between the Twic and Abyei communities slows down progress, Ring yet points at that peace implementation as providing room for optimism in his endeavor.

“It is helping me a lot,” Ring said of the peace implementation, “because I simply import goods from Uganda to here without hindrance.”

His goods are imported by land through Lakes State up to Warrap.

A technician inspects blood samples in the lab. Photo by Deng Athian

“Stability in Rumbek or Lakes State is helping me because I had been transporting the drugs via air in the past but now they come by road because there is no insecurity, and it is cheaper compared to the air transport,” he said.

The success of Ring however comes on the back of challenges overcome, especially with choosing his home town to set up the business.

“Many family members were not paying for the treatment because they believe that it is their clinic because I am their son,” Ring said.

“It was also difficult to get drugs supplies because there was no road connecting my village.”

To ensure the facility benefits him, Ring decided to stay away from the actual management on the ground.

“To avoid extended family members using the services for free or loan they do not pay, I employed one of the community health workers to take charge of the facility,” Ring said.

“After employing that person, I moved to Turalei town, the headquarters of Twic County to open a branch here.”

Ring is now an employer rather than job seeker.

“After I established this facility, I stopped searching for jobs from NGOs or government or companies and stuck to working here,” he said.

“This facility has become the source of income to my family in terms of feeding, medication, school fees and housing.”

The facility is visited by about 40 people daily seeking diagnoses for ailments or drugs prescribed from other hospitals, Ring said.

“I have 2 medical doctors, 3 nurses, 2 laboratory assistants, one cleaner, one security guard and myself as a clinical officer,” he said.

He advises fellow South Sudanese to create financial independency.

“I want to tell my fellow South Sudanese to do business because it is helpful. Doing business is the easier way to get wealth and it is the only easier way to instill sustainable livelihood rather than seeking jobs with the government or NGOs,” he said.

“Like I said before, I started doing business with only 15, 000 SSP. This money was the Social Insurance fund or benefit which was given to me by the NGO MSF Belgium. My contract ended and I thought of doing business. Now you see, I have 10 people employed through this business.”


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