Health Workers Near Breaking Point in Sudan
The conflict in Sudan has entered its third month with no signs of subsiding after another failed ceasefire over the Eid al-Adha holiday. Health workers across the country are near their breaking point as the health system stands on the brink of collapse. Every aspect of the health care system has been continually disrupted by ongoing ethnic violence. Nearly all the entry points into Sudan are closed or extremely difficult to navigate, causing month-long delivery times for urgently needed medical supplies and medicine.
Project HOPE has mobilized a response and has nearly 5,000 pounds of vital medicines and medical supplies on its way to Port Sudan. Additionally, Project HOPE continues to support its local partner, Nada Elazhar for Disaster Prevention and Sustainable Development (NADA), as they provide vital trainings for health care workers, sexual and gender-based violence case management, mental health and psychosocial support, and education on unexploded ordnance.
Rabih Torbay, President and CEO of Project HOPE, said:
“Nonstop violence has caused profound destruction to Sudan’s already fragile health system in Khartoum and across Darfur. Nearly all health facilities in conflict areas are closed or are operating at very limited capacity. Hospitals and clinics are frequently running out of oxygen, blood supply, and lifesaving drugs. Despite unfathomable conditions, health workers continue to show up to treat patients, but they are working beyond the point of exhaustion while fearing for their lives.
Health workers are the backbone of any health system and in Sudan, they are no strangers to working amidst conflict. I worked in Darfur in 2004 and witnessed atrocities, including the destruction of entire communities and the forced displacement of families. Events unfolding today are a continuation of ethnic violence and reminiscent of the Darfur Genocide that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Darfuri people. While delivering aid to Khartoum and Darfur continues to be dangerous and logistically challenging, the international community cannot sit idly while history repeats itself. Health workers desperately need medicine, supplies, and equipment to treat their patients as well as mental health support and adequate protection. If we fail the health workers of Sudan, more and more people will be left to die.”
Shaza Mohamed, Executive Director of NADA, said:
“We need a break in violence to catch our breath. People have gone to sleep to the sound of bombs dropping for 12 weeks straight. Health workers in Sudan are resilient but they have reached their breaking point. Health facilities continue to be targeted and when medical shipments do arrive, many are destroyed or stolen by armed groups.
The mental health of everyone, especially health workers, is dire and worsening by the day. We have seen an uptick in sexual violence targeting women and girls. Our team is working around the clock to reach as many people as possible as they grapple with gender-based violence and compounding trauma. People desperately need healthy ways to cope.”
Project HOPE has supported over 1,200 health workers and 14,000 community members across Sudan since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through its mental health and COVID-19 response training and will continue to partner with local organizations to support health workers.
Rabih Torbay, Shaza Mohammed, and Project HOPE humanitarian response experts are available for interview upon request. For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact [email protected].