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Member's blog - Other

Conflict in Sudan

Publication date: 24.04.2023
Author: International Academy of Public Health (IAPH)

On Saturday April 16, during the holy month of Ramadan, the people in Sudan woke up to open gunfire between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The crossfire initially began in West Darfur and later spread to Khartoum and neighboring areas. People in Sudan have suddenly, without prior notice, lost their access to essentials of life. The political upheaval has robbed them from their rights to food, water, shelter, and access to healthcare services. Some have left their homes and fled in search of safety and security and others have witnessed the annihilation of their houses as a result of the shooting. Destruction of schools and universities have led students to visualize the end of a path yet to begin. There are still more unfortunate souls who, with their naked eyes, saw the killing of their families, loved ones, and friends. To add misery to their pain, the martyrs are scattered everywhere around on the streets, tainted with blood, waiting to be buried. More fortunate people are confined in their homes, restricted of movement, hugging their family members tight in fear of losing any of them.

People are suffering from a shortage in water supply, unreliable electricity, and interrupted communication services. Even those who have the means of purchasing food and water are in shackles chained with the fear of getting shot with any movement. It is of utmost priority and urgency to highlight the challenges the healthcare system is exposed to as a result of the current life-threatening situation Sudan is facing.

The healthcare system is devoid of essential services to extend to those in need due to serious damage to its structure, infrastructure, health workforce, and accessibility. Almost 70% of hospitals are out of service as a result of direct structural damage: 40 out of 59 hospitals are out of service, 9 hospitals are bombed, and 16 hospitals were forced to evacuate their patients and staff. In addition, the ambulances can’t reach those in dire need of medical assistance. According to the Preliminary Committee of the Sudanese Medical Association (April 19, 2023) 5 ambulances, responding to calls of health emergencies, were attacked before they could serve people in critical health conditions. Other ambulances had their medical supplies and cars looted to serve the ongoing political warfare. Not only the ability of the healthcare system to serve the injured is hindered, but also the capacity to continue serving those who suffer from communicable and non-communicable diseases is severely constrained. Services for those with illnesses that need constant follow ups, counseling, and health facility-based treatment are suspended, further contributing to the expected rise of mortality rate in Sudan. Immunization programs have halted their services completely. The healthcare system is a primary sector in society and this situation is a recipe for soaring rates of morbidity and mortality from endemics in Sudan like polio and measles, chronic illnesses, and communicable diseases.

Health and humanitarian organizations are struggling to maintain an uninterrupted supply chain with Sudan as a result of the harm inflicted upon their staff according to the OCHA. The UNHAS plane that transmits humanitarian supply to Sudan was damaged at Khartoum airport. Moreover, WFP issued a statement suspending operations in Sudan as three of their staff were killed and two were injured while on mission. In addition, even when supplies did reach Sudan, despite the numerous impediments present, they have been looted. According to the 2023 Humanitarian Needs overview (HNO), the number of people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance has skyrocketed to exceed 15 million people.

One can’t stay silent and turn a blind eye towards the situation in Sudan. The political upheaval erupted in the sacred and inviolable month of Ramadan. Action must be taken now towards ceasefire immediately. The souls in Sudan are the only victims of these tragic circumstances. The trauma people and children in Sudan are currently experiencing will have long lasting effects. The very social determinants of health; the main sectors of society: economy, education, and healthcare system in Sudan are exposed to detrimental and deleterious effects. Both the citizens and the country of Sudan bear the pernicious effects. As Chamberlain once said, “in war, whoever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.” People in Sudan have put their trust in the political leaders and government for them to provide them with the means to prosper in an atmosphere with highest levels of security and safety. The war should cease now before damages are irreversible. Sudan is the Arab World’s food basket; it has political and economic ties with multiple neighboring countries. Restoring peace in Sudan means averting ripple effects to all countries. All international leaders have a significant role to play in ending the political unrest in Sudan and restoring peace.

Joanna Samhouri
Master's student of Global Public and Environmental Health
New York University

Dr. Haitham Bashier
IAPH Executive Director 

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