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The Doctari

Esther Muwombi
482km | Fighting reduced Bor to a ghost town. Manyang Malual fled to a camp where he treats refugees in need of medical help.
15.02.2016  |  Nyumanzi, Uganda
Jacob Manyang Malual at Nyumanzi refugee camp, Uganda.  (photo: The Niles | Esther Muwombi)
Jacob Manyang Malual at Nyumanzi refugee camp, Uganda. (photo: The Niles | Esther Muwombi)

> Departure: Bor, South Sudan
> Arrival: Nyumanzi refugee camp, Uganda 
> Distance: 482km 

Known by his nickname Doctari, or Doctor in Juba Arabic, Jacob Manyang Malual fled to the Nyumanzi refugee camp after weeks of fighting between government forces and rebels killed thousands. Bor, the capital of Jonglei State, became a ghost town. Since then, the number of people seeking refuge has continued to swell as violence continues across the country.

Malual has set up a makeshift home at Nyumanzi camp where he spends his days tending to the sick and injured. “My clinic is always flooded, but not every patient has money,” he says. “Many come to me for help and I treat them for free. They could go to the various NGO medical treatment tents or even government hospitals, but many are too ill to walk to these facilities, which are far outside the camps.”

He adds that many refugees walk for days to the free hospitals only to find that they are too full.

Malual, who used to work at the State Ministry of Health in Bor, now also works for ACORD, a health organisation at the camp. He says his clinic aims to help people rather than turn a profit. He lives at the camp with his wife, their four children, his father, his two wives, and 16 step sisters and brothers: “I treat and feed all of them.”

Deng Ding, who has been nursing an infected wound for months after being shot as he ran from his home in Bentiu to the United Nations camp, is among those treated at the small clinic inside Nyumanzi that Malual set up with his savings.

“If it wasn’t for Doctari’s treatments on my wound, my leg could have been cut off by now,” Ding says.

The local population of 100,000 has two government hospitals for refugees and locals. There are ten private clinics in the camp, too few for the long queues of ailing people. The biggest health threats are malaria, respiratory diseases like tuberculosis and asthma, and urinary tract infections. Malual’s clinic treats at least 15 people with such conditions every day.

But many fear that the spread of diseases will continue apace as the locals lack basics like mosquito nets to prevent malaria. “Over time relatives of the refugees have crept into the camps without the authorities’ knowledge. Now they are sharing the few nets there are,” he says. “In some tents four or five kids sleep under one net and during the night they slip out of the nets and get mosquito bites.”

This article is part of:
On The Move: Experience is a solid walking stick
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