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120 doctors for 8 million people: South Sudan's health-care gap

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

As in many developing nations, international aid is both an invaluable help to South Sudan and a crutch that sometimes enables it to avoid reality. International Rescue Committee (IRC) Community Case Management Officer Pitia Jacob (L) walks with Paulino Angui Akot in Majak Ajuong, in South Sudan, on June 2, 2012. All pictures made available to msnbc.com on July 10, 2012.

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

A young girl with malaria rests in the in-patient ward of the Malualkon Primary Health Care Center in Malualkon, in Northern Bahr el Ghazal on June 1, 2012.

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

One of a few broken ambulances at the Aweil State Hospital, the only hospital in the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, on June 2, 2012.

Reuters reports — Nowhere is South Sudan's dependence on the outside world more clear than in its health system.

The people of Africa's newest nation — which celebrated its first birthday on Monday — face cholera, measles, meningitis, polio, river blindness, sleeping sickness, yellow fever and whooping cough. Malaria accounts for a quarter of all hospital visits. South Sudan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Around one in six children die within their first year.

And there are just 120 doctors and 100 nurses in a country of 8 million. Foreign governments and other donors gave just under $1 billion or so in aid in 2010, and around four-fifths of all health care is provided by outside groups. Read the full story.


Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

Blood samples to be tested for malaria are seen at the Aweil State Hospital in Aweil on June 2, 2012.

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

Left to right: Toma Adeng, Maria Abuk, Mary Achol, and Martha Akuch, who work as voluntary birth attendants, pose for a photograph at the Malualkon Primary Health Care Center in Malualkon on June 1, 2012.

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

A handwritten medical chart is seen on the wall of the Malualkon Primary Health Care Center in Malualkon on June 1, 2012.

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

Men carry bags of food while women wait for their rations at the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) food distribution site in Pibor on June 25, 2012.

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

A U.N. helicopter lands at the airstrip in Pibor on June 26, 2012. Development experts have grown more sophisticated in recent decades about how they deliver aid. But in fragile states such as South Sudan, getting the balance right between helping a country and helping that country help itself remains incredibly difficult.