The Case for Placing South Sudan’s Healthcare System at the Heart of the Humanitarian Response
Seruka or “Don’t Hide,” is an organization in Bujumbura, Burundi, that provides confidential medical support for survivors of sexual violence and psychological and social support for them and their families. Seruka also assists with connecting survivors with legal advocates, and provides medical evidence of assaults for legal prosecutions. The clinic’s intake and case management processes are stringently followed to protect and ensure each client's privacy, gaining the trust of clients and the community as a whole.
Seruka’s clinic, which is supported by CARE, is staffed by one doctor, eight nurses and three psychologists. It operates around the clock to provide medical care and a safe shelter for survivors, who often have traveled long distances or do not have a safe haven to return to as they recover.
Once clients arrive at the clinic, they go through the intake procedure, if their injuries are not life-threatening, then they are examined, tested and treated for injury, exposure to HIV and pregnancy. While the clinic is small, there are a few beds for clients to recover from their injuries and assault. Once released, the clinic schedules follow-up visits with each client for further medical and physiological support.
The clinic treats on average 124 cases per month, with more than half of those being minors, mostly girls but boys as well. Because Seruka is known and respected, between 80 and 85 percent of the clients arrive at the clinic seeking help within 72 hours of their attack – an important window in collecting forensic evidence as well as administering prophylactic care.
The clinic reports that 60 percent of the clients know their attacker, but only 25-30 percent take legal recourse. However, 94 percent do accept the clinics psychological and social support services, sometimes involving their families in the care and support.
Many of CARE’s programs in Burundi focus on bringing an end to the scourge of gender-based violence by integrating community education and support for survivors into our solidarity groups and village savings and loan programs.