Activists urge Sudanese government to suspend country's schools amid a growing epidemic of cholera

Activists urge Sudanese government to suspend country's schools amid a growing epidemic of cholera
2 min read
04 July, 2017
The government has chosen to ignore the outbreak of disease to continue business as usual, even though the US embassy confirmed an outbreak in early June.
Experts warn that schools are 'places of rapid transmission' [Anadolu]
A group of Sudanese doctors and the Sudanese political opposition party all urged the government to suspend the country's schools, amid a growing epidemic of cholera.

The Sudanese Doctors Union and the National Consensus Forces (NCF) both called for a postponement to the start of the new school year over fears it could help spread the disease.

"Our ministry insists on referring to it as diarrhoea for political reasons, and opening schools today is dangerous because they are possible places of rapid transmission," said Alfatih Masoud, of the Sudanese Doctors Union.

The UN's humanitarian agency, OCHA, reports 317 deaths from Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) in Sudan between August 2016 and June 2017, with a total of 16,600 suspected cases.

The United States embassy in Khartoum confirmed on June 1 the outbreak of cholera in some areas of Sudan, including the capital city.

Humanitarian NGOs expect the outbreak to exacerbate through the country's rainy season and have called on the government to act.

"The rainy season usually lasts from in June-August and may exacerbate the situation if no adequate preventative interventions can be implemented in time," a spokesperson for the WHO said.

Yet the international community cannot report the outbreak of cholera, as in neighbouring South Sudan, because public officials refuse to carry out testing.

Authorities have even carried out a crackdown on those reporting the disease as cholera, instead of the term "acute water diarrhoea" (AWD).

Three members of a Sudanese opposition party were arrested in June for organising cholera awareness campaigns in Khartoum.

Egypt's Cairo airport began testing Sudanese arrivals for cholera last week, continuing a practice already used against Yemeni nationals.

A massive outbreak of cholera in Yemen has already claimed the lives of 1,300 people in the past year and many officials have criticised the international community for their slowness to respond to the crisis.