Sudan: Conflict Resulting in Health Crisis
By Gift Briton
The fierce fighting in Sudan has put the country’s health system in a crisis and as a result, the number of patients requiring critical care but having no access to health facilities and treatment has significantly increased.
The closure of more than 70% of the hospitals in the country due to unrest has disrupted treatment putting patients suffering from chronic diseases including those with renal failure, heart disease, cancer, haemophilia, neonates, obstetrics, and gynaecology at risk.
“As you know, the health system in Sudan has been weak in terms of finance, supply, human resource distribution, and data and information. However, after the war started, the health system is now in a critical situation. There is a lack of supply and access to human resources,” said Dr. Khalid Ahmedana, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Coordinator in Sudan, after visiting and donating medical supplies to some of the hospitals in the country.
Moreover, he noted that hospitals that are in the proximity of war are shifting patients to other hospitals that are considered safer even if such hospitals do not specialize in the kind of treatment or services the shifted patients require.
For instance, some hospitals specialize in obstetrics and paediatrics, but due to the current situation, they are now receiving patients who require urgent surgery and other services which originally they did not specialize in. The hospitals in the safe areas are also facing a crisis because they are overwhelmed by patients.
“Khartoum was considered as a referral point for all the patients, but now it is vice versa. So, instead of patients going or coming to Khartoum, they are moving out of Khartoum,” Dr Ahmedana said.
According to him, the shortage of water in some areas and lack of waste management with several bodies still lying outside may lead to a later epidemic.
“The rubbish is gathering and there are a lot of flies and mosquitoes, posing a high risk for environmental health. Knowing that malaria and dengue fever are also diseases that have existed for a long time before the war and still they will continue to be there,” Dr.Ahmedana added.
Turkish hospital, one of the hospitals dealing with the many war victims, was an obstetrics and gynaecology hospital but had to be repurposed to treat the wounded victims. The hospital is doing around five to eight surgeries per day depending on the impact of the violence in the area.
Additionally, with just 17 machines for dialysis, they had to increase their capacity of doing up to 102 sessions per day for dialysis patients.
“We will continue to support the Turkish hospital and look for partners who are also trying to support so that we coordinate with them in order not to duplicate each other’s work, and to have a mechanism of coordination in place together with the Ministry of Health and Emergency departments,” he said.