Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Marie Stopes International (MSI) South Sudan Abortion Clinic in Juba

 "Someone in Uk should find out how Marie Stopes International Practices in UK".

By Dennis

After 21 years of civil war in Sudan where millions of lives were lost, we would imagine that the most logical programme for the world’s youngest nation—South Sudan, would be one that promotes population growth to replace the lost lives. South Sudan, a country twice the size of UK, and population estimated at less than 10 million, is not ripe for abortion.

Abortion is illegal in South Sudan and any organization or individual promoting abortion is promoting an illegality. However, despite what the law says and the knowledge that abortion is illegal in South Sudan, Marie Stopes International (MSI) opened a clinic in Juba (Hai Negli Area, East of Juba University) in July 2010. The opening ceremony was a low key event, intentionally designed not to attract media attention as it was soon after they had been kicked out of Khartoum. Their assets, including brand new cars, were taken by Humanitarian Commission (HAC) and all staffs paid six months’ salary to disappear and not talk to the media.

Internationally, MSI is known to provide abortions especially in countries where abortion is legal (UK, South Africa etc). On its official website in the UK, MSI describes itself and the kind of services it offer to the clients:

"Marie Stopes International is the UK's leading provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services. Our nationwide network of sexual health clinics see over 100,000 men and women each year who come to us for information, advice and professional care. We are committed to providing all the help you need to make informed choices about your health. We ensure that there is no wait for appointments and that our centres are safe, friendly, and comfortable places to visit. Our services include: Contraception, Unplanned pregnancy counseling, Abortion information and advice, Help for women needing abortions, Abortion pill and other treatment options, Vasectomy information and vasectomy procedure, Female sterilization, Health screening for men and women, Company health screening and STI testing."

Even in countries where abortion is illegal, the practice continues but is disguised as provision of Family planning services. That is how they took root in Juba, South Sudan and in Khartoum previously.

Taking the case of MSI Juba Clinic for instance, immediately after launching, 16 staffs were recruited to do underground mobilization, targeting young girls at the University of Juba and its environs. The message was clear: tell them there are family planning services and other services like those in neighboring countries (In Uganda and Kenya, MSI is known for this practice and they were targeting those who could have heard about it such as returning refugees).

Realizing the targets were not being met, MSI decided to recruit and bring in a new country director, one who had the credentials of increasing sales in record time. And this time the sales were measured in terms of the highest number of abortions in the shortest time possible (year one target was 1500).

Deaths:

Hardly a year into the operations, the first victim of the ‘safe abortion’ was recorded. However, the case had to be killed without being picked up by the media and the police. The family based in Ethiopia was paid and all expenses related to hospitalization and burial catered for by MSI.

Shortly thereafter, another case arose. A man who was certain that his wife was pregnant came back from Yambio only to find that the wife was no longer pregnant. Upon severe battering, the wife admitted that she had procured an abortion at MSI clinic in Juba. The man had to be paid to kill the story, and thus, a high delegation was sent from London since they were getting concerned that their young project might go the Khartoum way (In reference to how they were kicked out of Khartoum)

Late last year (2011), the third victim was a young girl probably in high school. The pregnancy was more than 12 weeks and the doctor on duty refused to perform the operation. He was sacked for this but the saddest part was that the young girl passed away.

Malpractices:

Using the NGO tag, MSI is freely getting supplies from UNFPA, MSH and Ministry of health in Juba. As you can see, Family planning commodities are given to them freely and instead of providing free services as it should be, the commodities end up being sold to the poor victims!

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU):

Abortion drugs which are not registered in Juba find their way through parcels and staff hand bags. Any staff travelling to London or from London will be delivering of picking orders. Since they know that the scanning at Juba International Airport is not serious, they pass scot free and duty and tax free!

Capacity building is one of the core pillars of any programme and true to that MSI ensures the staffs are taken out of Juba especially to Kenya, Ghana and South Africa where they can get many women coming for abortion to practice. The flip side is, instead of focusing on Family planning as indicated in the visas, the whole two weeks training is on abortion and those missing the real benefit to the deserving communities. It would be worth money to train midwives to improve the maternal mortality situation rather than focus on abortions.

Incriminating Documents:

Documents in our possession indicate clearly the objectives of the clinic. To protect the operations, most documents are marked classified or confidential. These are never shared with outsiders. In the documents, you can clearly see what is written (different words are used to cover up the real deal, i.e. MSP and MSMP: Basically Abortions without medical assistance and with medical assistance respectively).

Interviews and Recruitment:

Having operated for one year without being un-earthed, the strategy is to move to other good areas (potential business). The major towns identified so far are Torit, Nimule, Yambio, Yei, Kajo Keji, and possibly Mundri.

When staffs are being recruited, the only thing that matters is the pro-abortion answer. For example, even if you are the most qualified candidate but you are against abortion, then you have no chance of being recruited. Due to lack of adequate job opportunities in South Sudan, most people would grudgingly accept that they can perform abortions only to realize that it is a bloody and murderous affair.

According to one of the providers: "I saw light after being presented with a case where the child came out still alive, I went home, confessed to a priest and promised myself never to be involved again." That’s how she left working for MSI. Her contract was terminated immediately.

The big and urgent question is: for how long will this carnage continue? Or if it’s the best thing to have ever happened for our girls and women, then let the government openly announce that they want to, or have already, legalize abortion. In that case, let the MSI clinic and other clinics operate freely and competitively!

The citizens of South Sudan, as well as the government, must be made aware of the illegal activities of MSI in Juba. The government must wake up and declare which side it is on, MSI or the law!! If the law had changed, then that should be made explicitly clear to all citizens of our country so that there should be accompanying laws to safeguard and protect the lives of our womenfolk at the MSI clinics and to punish any negligence and cover-ups going on there.

The simple, yet the fundamental, question is this: under whose (and what) law are MSI clinics operating? South Sudanese must know because their love ones are dying under mysterious circumstances, all under the nose of a seemingly dysfunctional government in Juba and beyond the reach of the law! Surely, South Sudanese deserve better than this!

Dennis is a concerned South Sudanese from Juba.


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