Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
ad a b
ad ad ad

Sudan's health in the range of cannon fire | Health spokesman in Khartoum to Al-Bawaba News: We have a large shortage of medical staff and work at a minimum level, there is no biological risk

Monday 01/May/2023 - 06:21 PM
The Reference
Ahmed Al-Saati

Over the course of fourteen days, the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, experienced a severe collapse in various fields. Between shelling and sniping, the deterioration of the humanitarian, health and living conditions of millions of people in the country whose residents groan from the lack of services due to multiple conflicts has worsened even though it is known as the “Arab food basket” and the third largest producer of gold in Africa.

Once the political differences were about to calm down with the final signing of the political Framework Agreement, until verbal skirmishes turned into a fierce war between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), only cannonballs and rifle shots have been heard there, leaving 4,193 injured and 512 dead in just 12 days, while millions groan from the harshness of the human conditions and the acute shortage of the various basic components of life.

The health sector is perhaps the most important of the vital sectors that have been radically affected with the ongoing military crisis, amid calls and warnings by local and international organizations of a complete collapse of the sector, which was already groaning years before the outbreak of armed clashes, which do not differentiate between military buildings and medical or civilian ones.

In the midst of the various media talk and statements regarding the impact on the medical sector in Sudan and the fact that “a good number” of hospitals are out of service, in addition to the spread of many videos and statements by citizens of the harsh medical conditions in the country, Al Bawaba spoke with Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel Rahman, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in Khartoum State - the state most affected by the war - to find out about the latest developments in the Sudanese medical sector in light of the war.


We have a huge shortage of medical staff and are working at a minimum level

Dr. Abdel Rahman revealed details of the medical and health conditions in the country in light of the armed conflict taking place between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” and the armed forces led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan since mid-April.

Abdel Rahman said in his interview with Al-Bawaba that there is a huge deficit in the Sudanese medical sector in terms of the availability of the necessary numbers of medical personnel in light of the war in the country. He pointed out that hospitals in Khartoum State are operating with a minimum number of medical personnel in order to cover the largest possible number of hospitals sprawling in separate parts of the population blocs, in addition to covering as many different medical specialties as possible, such as children, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, war surgery, dialysis, heart, nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system, and urinary system.

There were six Sudanese states, out of 18 states, affected by military clashes on the first and second day of the armed conflict, but from April 17 until now, the clashes were confined to the state of Khartoum, which includes seven localities, Abdel Rahman said, adding, “So we had to work with the minimum number of medical staff to ensure the continuity and provision of services at the emergency and semi-emergency levels. But in light of the armed conflict in the country, priority is given to the war-wounded.”


There is no shortage of medical supplies, but there is difficulty in delivering them to some hospitals

In his interview with Al-Bawaba, Abdel Rahman denied the existence of a shortage of medical supplies in Khartoum, pointing out that the number of beneficiaries who visited hospitals in peacetime ranged from 15,000-20,000 patients per day received by 134 hospitals (private and government). However, now in wartime, 100 hospitals are working after 34 hospitals stopped working due to the lack of safety in these hospitals, because most of them are located close to the areas of engagement.

Abdel Rahman confirmed that the average number of patients admitted to hospitals in Khartoum State since the outbreak of clashes on April 15 reached between 200-300 cases per day, representing no more than 2% of the total number of citizens admitted to hospitals in normal conditions. He pointed out that the number of patients hospitalized due to the war has decreased, which has led to the availability of some medical supplies.

He explained that it cannot be said that there is a shortage of medical supplies; however, there is difficulty in delivering some medical supplies to some hospitals that receive large numbers of injured and sick people, depending on the areas of clashes and the high number of injured around them. He pointed out that the Khartoum Health Ministry has become somewhat able to overcome the crisis of delivering medical supplies to hospitals in the days of the ceasefire and the receding of the exchange of fire areas.

Abdel Rahman noted that there will sometimes be an increase in the demand for certain items of medical supplies for 13 hospitals that receive large numbers of wounded and injured due to their proximity to the areas of clashes, with three hospitals belonging to the public sector and ten belonging to the private sector.

He explained that the hospitals that provide medical services in Khartoum are divided into two parts. The first is the public sector-owned hospitals, which number 53, and the second is the privately owned hospitals - administratively subject to the public sector - and there are 81 hospitals in total. He pointed out that the number of hospitals that have gone out of service from the public sector reached 12, along with 22 private hospitals.


There is no crisis in the blood banks, as there are 3,000 bottles of blood distributed among the 5 central blood banks in Khartoum

Regarding the lack of blood in light of the armed conflict taking place in Khartoum and the high rates of casualties among the military and civilians, Abdel Rahman denied any shortage in blood banks, confirming that there are about 3,000 bottles of blood distributed to the five central blood banks in Khartoum State, and there are also 4,000 empty blood bags for continuous donation in the five blood banks.

However, the Sudan Doctors Committee issued an official statement on Friday in which it warned of an imminent collapse of the health system and the threat of death for patients with kidney failure. The statement said, “There is an acute shortage of medical aid, in addition to the difficulty of medical personnel arriving to and from hospitals, the lack of safe passages for ambulance, the continued occupation of hospitals by the Rapid Support Forces militias, and the violation and targeting of health facilities by both parties to the conflict.”

The statement indicated that, according to the information received by the Preliminary Committee of the Sudan Doctors Syndicate, there are dialysis centers in which supplies have been exhausted. These centers perform dialysis for about 12,000 patients with chronic kidney failure, in addition to acute cases, with an average of 140,000 dialysis per month, which puts the lives of most of them at stake. Unless supplies reach the dialysis centers urgently, they are at risk of losing 12,000 patients with kidney failure.

The statement added that blood banks throughout the state of Kassala (Kassala Educational, Saudi, Kuwaiti, Khashm al-Qirba, and Halfa) suffer from a lack of blood bags, and there are a few blood bags in the police hospital and the military hospital.


We provide medical services for patients with chronic diseases, but priority is given to war casualties

Regarding the conditions of people with chronic diseases in Khartoum, Abdel Rahman explained that, in light of the circumstances the country is going through, priority is given to war-wounded patients for treatment in central hospitals. However, there are medical and health centers that provide medical assistance and services at the general level, including 51 out of 81 centers distributed throughout the seven localities of Khartoum State.

He said that medical service is provided at the first and second levels of primary health care services, focusing on basic specialties such as internal medicine, children, obstetrics and gynecology, and the family physician. These centers have been designated to follow up and review patients with chronic diseases who are unable to visit their hospitals because of the war. But if it turns out that there is a serious case of patients with chronic diseases, they are transferred to the nearest central hospital.


53 hospitals and 243 medical centers in Sudan provide services at a rate of 85% free of charge

Abdel Rahman confirmed the continuation of the work of 24 dialysis centers out of 30 in Khartoum State providing service to about 4,000 patients, pointing out that the capacity of the operating centers is estimated at 6,300,000 patients, while the medical stock for dialysis patients is also secured from the beginning of the month until mid-May 2023.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Health has launched an electronic medical consultation service via telephone and social networking sites, adding that the medical services provided by the public medical sector hospitals in the state, which number 53 hospitals and 243 medical centers, are provided at a rate of 85% free of charge.


RSF has taken control of the STAC laboratory, and we fear the danger of tampering with it, but there is no biological danger

In response to the World Health Organization’s warnings of a great biological danger that the country may be exposed to due to the control of one of the parties to the armed conflict over the central health laboratory (STAC) in Khartoum, which contains measles and cholera, Abdel Rahman said, “Members of the Rapid Support Forces entered the STAC laboratory and are still in it, and communication has been made with the higher authorities in the RSF due to the danger of tampering with the laboratory, although the situation is being contained,” pointing out that Sudanese Health Minister Haitham Ibrahim “denied the existence of anything that constitutes a biological threat.”

It is worth noting that the National Public Health Laboratory (STAC) is affiliated with the Sudanese Federal Ministry of Health and includes about 25 diagnostic, supervisory and technical departments. It is located in the center of Khartoum, near the vicinity of the Republican Palace and the General Command of the Army.


The door of aid is open to all organizations, and we don't know when the war will end

Regarding the various medical aid and support for the Sudanese Ministry of Health in light of the war, Abdel Rahman praised the efforts of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Sudan, confirming that they are working side by side with the Sudanese in the hospitals and provide many nursing assistants to work in the hospitals.

“The door to aid is open” to all local, regional and international civil society organizations to support Sudan in light of the difficult conditions it is going through due to the war, he said, adding, “We do not know when the war will end. We do not know the intensity of the war and the expected number of victims. We always welcome any party capable of support and humanitarian assistance.”


Dr. Heba Omar, Chairman of the Preliminary Committee of the Sudan Doctors Syndicate, told Al-Bawaba: There is a significant deterioration in health in Sudan, and 72% of hospitals stopped working

In the same context, Dr. Heba Omar, head of the Preliminary Committee of the Sudan Doctors Syndicate, in her interview with Al-Bawaba News, confirmed the deterioration of health and medical conditions in Sudan in light of the fact that a number of hospitals stopped working due to bombing or forced eviction, adding that there is a significant shortage of medical supplies, medicines and solutions, while hospitals in Khartoum are overcrowded with military casualties.

Omar said that 72% of hospitals in Khartoum State that are close to areas of armed clashes are out of service, pointing out that the total number of hospitals confined to the Doctors Syndicate is 82 basic hospitals in Khartoum, and 59 hospitals of those have stopped providing services.


Omar added that there are 23 fully or partially operating hospitals in Khartoum out of 82, and some only provide first aid services, while these 23 hospitals are also threatened with closure due to a shortage of medical personnel and medical supplies, in addition to the continuous power outages. She pointed out that from April 15-25, 14 hospitals were bombed and 19 others were forcibly evacuated, in addition to attacking six ambulances and preventing the passage of others to transport the injured to hospitals.

The Doctors Committee issued an official statement on Friday in which it noted that there is an acute shortage of medical aid, in addition to the difficulty of medical staff arriving to and from hospitals, the lack of safe passages for ambulance, and the continued occupation and targeting of hospitals.


WHO: We recorded 16 attacks on health facilities and expect an increase in deaths

Omar’s statements come close to the warning bell launched by the World Health Organization stressing that 61% of health facilities in Sudan are closed. WHO Director Tedros Adhanom said that 61% of health facilities in Sudan are closed, and the organization recorded 16 attacks on health facilities in Sudan and expects more deaths due to the spread of diseases and the lack of necessary services.


Red Crescent: Hospitals suffer from a shortage of supplies, and we are being targeted

In press statements, Osama Abu Bakr, an official in the Sudanese Red Crescent, confirmed the difficulty of accessing hospitals because of the violent clashes and the targeting of ambulances, medical staff, and relief missions, as well as blocking the way for humanitarian and relief missions that were trying to deliver medical aid to hospitals in Sudan.

Abu Bakr said that the number of hospitals out of service is increasing, while the operating hospitals suffer from a severe shortage of medical supplies and medical personnel due to the military conflict and the long distances between the regions.


They came in search of an opportunity for life, so they fled to escape death

The tragic situation in Sudan is ravaging thousands of people who have come in search of a new chance for life, fleeing from certain death or imminent injury. More than 10,000 people of different nationalities around the world fled Sudan through the Egyptian Arqin and Qastal crossings between April 21-25, according to a statement by the General Authority for Land and Dry Ports in Egypt.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the number of Sudanese crossing the border has exceeded more than 14,000 citizens, and the number of crossings to Egypt has reached more than 2,000 foreign citizens from 50 countries and six international organizations as of April 27.

Regarding the treatment of Egyptians from Sudan, Ambassador Ahmed Abu Zeid, the official spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed that the implementation of the evacuation plan for Egyptian citizens in Sudan is in full swing, and the state's efforts succeeded in evacuating 5,327 Egyptian citizens from the beginning of the crisis until April 27.

Meanwhile, about 20,000 Sudanese fled to Chad, and about 4,000 refugees returned to South Sudan, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in South Sudan, which expects 125,000 refugees to return to South Sudan.