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Sudan health sector 'on its knees' as hospitals close, supplies dry up

Seventy percent of hospitals in Sudan have shut down and the country is running out of vital medical supplies as a result of the ongoing, violent conflict, prompting pleas for help from medical staff.

The Sudan Doctors Trade Union (SDTU) has written to international aid partners appealing for immediate assistance as the health sector becomes incapacitated, saying that by the end of last week, it had recorded more than 400 civilian deaths in hospitals around Khartoum.

“Total injuries among civilians numbered 2 023,” the union said.

They have yet to get the final tally of deaths in El Geneina in Western Darfur, but the figure was more than 90. There is no functional hospital in the area, reports News24.

In all parts of the country where there’s gunfire, about 70% of the hospitals have been shut down, and the bombardment of Al Bahara Hospital in Khartoum Bahri on 29 April further aggravated the situation.

Although there has been a three-day mini-ceasefire between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to allow civilians to flee, there have been isolated reports of shelling in the capital, Khartoum.

Exiled Sudanese activist Amir Suliman, of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, said the country’s health sector was on its knees.

Suliman was speaking to News24 from Banjul, Gambia, at the NGO’s forum ahead of the African Union’s African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“The biggest losers are civilians. Where will they go for basic healthcare? They will die from illnesses that should not have killed them in the first place.”

Four children had died at Al Saudi Hospital because of a shortage of oxygen, and there were fears deaths could increase because blood banks were empty. Hospitals had also run out of heparin injections, used in the treatment of heart ailments to thin blood.

The doctors said about 12 000 patients had been compromised by a shortage of supplies used in renal dialysis and risked dying of kidney failure. Before the armed clashes, SDTU said renal centres in Khartoum conducted 140 000 sessions per month.

Public and environmental health

There has also been a spike in waterborne diseases, like diarrhoea and febrile illness, due to a lack of treated and suitable water.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that after assessment, there was only a “moderate risk” related to the seizure of a public health laboratory in Khartoum by one of the warring parties.

WHO’s representative in Sudan had said last week there was a “high risk of biological hazard” after the laboratory holding cholera pathogens and other hazardous materials was seized.

However, this week spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said the risk was only moderate, “because the lab cannot provide its main function, to provide the analysis and the diagnostics because of the lack of fuel and lack of trained staff”, reports Reuters.


Reuters article – WHO says risk 'moderate' after laboratory in Sudan seized by fighters


News24 article – Sudan conflict: Health sector on its knees as 70% of hospitals shut down (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


WHO condemns attacks on Sudanese doctors and medical staff


Junior doctors lead the push to oust Sudan’s dictator


South Sudanese doctor wins UN’s Nansen award







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