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The number of disease outbreaks in Sudan is increasing due to the breakdown of the healthcare system.
Africa Science & Health

The number of disease outbreaks in Sudan is increasing due to the breakdown of the healthcare system.

The World Health Organization cautions that Sudan, a country torn by war, is experiencing an increase in disease outbreaks, malnutrition, and non-communicable diseases. This is having a devastating impact on the millions of individuals who have been displaced due to the escalating violence.

Since the outbreak of conflict on April 15th, over 4.6 million individuals have been forced to leave their homes within Sudan. This number, combined with the pre-existing three million displaced individuals, has resulted in Sudan having the largest internally displaced crisis in the world.

On Tuesday in Port Sudan, Ni’ma Saeed Abid, the WHO representative in Sudan, stated that the health system in Sudan is under immense strain and struggling to meet increasing demands as its capacities diminish.

He stated that millions of Sudanese are at risk of severe illness or death from preventable and treatable causes due to insecurity, displacement, and shortages of medicines and medical supplies. Access to healthcare remains limited in these circumstances.

According to the WHO, approximately 70-80% of healthcare facilities are not operational in areas of conflict. The organization has confirmed 60 instances of violence against healthcare facilities and workers, resulting in 34 fatalities and 38 injuries.

Abid stated that the conflict and resulting displacement have pushed the population into a state of widespread malnutrition, putting the lives of children at risk.

People queue at a medical laboratory to get tested for dengue fever in the eastern Gedaref state of Sudan, Sept. 22, 2023.

On September 22, 2023, individuals line up at a medical facility in the eastern Gedaref state of Sudan to undergo testing for dengue fever.

The speaker cautioned that multiple states are currently experiencing outbreaks of cholera, measles, dengue, and malaria. He also mentioned that when combined with malnutrition, these diseases can have deadly consequences.

Based on the most recent calculations from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), 20.3 million individuals, accounting for 40 percent of Sudan’s total population, are currently experiencing food insecurity. The estimates indicate that 4.6 million children, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers, are suffering from malnutrition, with 3.4 million children under the age of five facing acute malnutrition and 700,000 children at risk of severe acute malnutrition, which can result in death.

According to Abid, I have witnessed multiple instances of two or three children being placed on one bed for treatment of acute and serious malnutrition due to the large number of cases. Additionally, these children are at a higher risk for infection due to their malnourished state.

On September 26, Sudan announced that there have been cholera outbreaks in the states of Gedaref, Khartoum, and South Kordofan. Suspected cases have also been reported in Al Jazirah and Kassal states.

Abid stated that there is potential for future growth due to the high quality of water supply, sanitation, and displacement. They anticipate that more states and individuals may be impacted as a result.

According to the latest report from the WHO, there have been 1,962 possible cases of cholera, of which 30 have been confirmed by laboratory testing. Tragically, there have also been 72 deaths associated with these cases. The organization predicts that up to 3.1 million individuals may be in danger of contracting cholera by the end of December.

The World Health Organization has gathered medicines and necessary resources for treating individuals with cholera. It has sent out 14 fast-acting teams to the impacted regions, enhanced the nation’s monitoring and alert systems, and is preparing to obtain oral cholera vaccines for a campaign in Gedaref state.

It has been over six months since the crisis in Sudan began. Although it is crucial to work towards mitigating the most severe consequences of the tragedy, it is insufficient.

The under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, believes that lasting peace is the only solution to the ongoing and devastating humanitarian crisis in the country.

He expressed his approval of the restart of peace negotiations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during the weekend, stating that they should have begun even earlier.

According to the statement, a large number of individuals have lost their lives or been harmed. The ongoing conflict, lack of safety, and bureaucratic hurdles are severely limiting the efforts of aid workers, creating a highly difficult situation for humanitarian operations in Sudan.

He stated that we require the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces to help us overcome the bureaucratic obstacles. We need them to fully follow the rules of international humanitarian law and to guarantee safe and unrestricted access to those in need.