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South Sudanese “War and Grace” Emerges winner of WHO inaugural Health for All Film Festival.

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The World Health Organization announced the winner of its inaugural Health for All Film Festival last week on International Nurses Day on May 12. A special tribute to nurses and midwives, the festival saw 1,265 submissions from more than 110 countries that give viewers a glimpse into what drives health care workers to do what they do.

WHO invited filmmakers to participate in three categories: stories about nurses and midwives, animated films, and video reports.

Duty of Care

They may seem like superheroes, but doctors, nurses, midwives, and community health workers need support too. This content series takes a look at how health systems can function better so that health care workers are supported, protected, and empowered.

The winner of the nurse and midwife category, “War and Grace,” depicts the difficulties of running a training school for South Sudanese midwives. Political insecurity forces the school and students to relocate from the small town of Kajo Keji near the border of Uganda to Juba, where they stubbornly continue their work despite the odds.

Other nominated films portray the diversity of experiences health care workers have and their dedication to their chosen field. Notably, the majority of them are women.

In Mexico, the film “Birth Wars” follows midwives that help women from small towns and villages through pregnancy. The midwives advocate for home birthing as a credible alternative to having a child in the hospital, where doctors can sometimes be patronizing, and future mothers may not fully understand their rights to make decisions about their bodies and their babies.

Meanwhile, May Murithi, the maternal health manager of a clinic in Monguno, Nigeria, recounts her day-to-day life working in an area recently devastated by conflict. “The Nigerian Midwives Risking their Lives Caring for Women Living in Makeshift Camps” shows how the clinic serves a community of internally displaced people. By her own admission, Murithi doesn’t have a social life — the relatively restrictive conditions mean she can only communicate by radio and commute between the base and the clinic. Yet the rewards of bringing new life into the world ultimately outweigh the drawbacks.

“The Emergency Hospital” follows the plight of Iraqis who were severely injured as a result of conflict between the Iraqi Army and Daesh in 2017. Observations by medical staff about the futility of war — and the impact on children, in particular — paint a somber picture of the physical rehabilitation of both the patients and Iraq as a country. The film aims to show how humans try to live with dignity, whatever the circumstances, and how compassion traverses borders.

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