In the single functional hospital in war-ravaged South Sudan’s Upper Nile region, the only X-ray machine is broken, the sole surgical theater is lit by a single light, and electricity is provided by generators that often break down.
But a team of medical staff led by head surgeon Evan Atar Adaha works tirelessly to treat all those in need, regardless of their background, at Maban Referral Hospital, which serves more than 200,000 people.
While most surgeons work hard, Dr Atar’s schedule is punishing: to meet demand, he has been known to work 48-hour shifts, living in a canvas tent near the hospital, far from his family in Kenya.
He only sees his wife and their four children three times a year.
Dr Atar was recognized today with the Nansen Refugee Award from the United Nations refugee agency, and was modest about his personal sacrifice, telling the ABC’s World program it’s “difficult” but “we have to adapt”.
“Our work as a doctor is to save lives and [provide] ease for those who are sick — that are why we are committed,” said Dr Atar, who is also the medical director of the hospital, in the town of Bunj.
South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, has been wracked by civil war since December 2013.
The country had just 120 doctors and 100 nurses to care for 12 million people at independence in 2011, according to the UN, but that number dropped as medical workers fled the violence or were killed.