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Physician Assistant Project in South Sudan Awarded Grant of $5,000

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (For Immediate Release) ... The Physician Assistant Foundation has awarded Le Moyne College a grant of $5,000 for its Physician Assistant Project in South Sudan.

In January 2011, the people of southern Sudan voted to form an independent country, the Republic of South Sudan, following 22 years of civil war. Many primary health care units and hospitals were destroyed during those decades, resulting in an acute shortage not only of health care professionals, but also drug supplies and other essential equipment vital to the functioning of the remaining health care facilities.

The goal of the Le Moyne Physician Assistant Project is to provide humanitarian support in the form of experienced physician assistant personnel, training and medical supplies, initially targeting the Torit area of the Eastern Equatoria State, which comprises approximately 20,000 people.

According to project director, Mary Springston, M.S. Ed., RPA-C, director of the physician assistant program at Le Moyne, South Sudan is known to have some of the worst health indicators in the world and is lacking health care providers as well as health care facilities.

“An estimated 3 percent of the population suffers from HIV infection,” said Springston. “This number could increase dramatically without large-scale prevention and testing, so it is extremely important to get HIV educational materials and testing centers set up as rapidly as possible. At present, the Department of HIV/AIDS in South Sudan employs five staff serving 900,000 people.”

Springston, whose area of expertise is in providing primary care to people living with HIV/AIDS, is planning to travel to South Sudan in January of 2012, where she will work with the Eastern Equatoria State Minister of Health, H.E. Sam Felix Makuja, to establish sustainable projects.

Springston previously has accompanied physician assistant students to sites in Russia and Tanzania. The hope is to establish clinical training sites in the new Republic of South Sudan as well through this project.

As the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Physician Assistant Foundation's mission is to develop and allocate resources that empower the physician assistant profession to impact the health and wellness of communities it serves.

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posted on: 8/31/2011