Sudan healthcare system 'on verge of collapse', says WHO

Sudan healthcare system 'on verge of collapse', says WHO
The outbreak of violence in Sudan has put additional pressure on its already struggling healthcare system.
3 min read
19 April, 2023
Sudanese citizens rushed to pharmacies to stock up on medical supplies amid ongoing fighting [Getty]

Medical supplies and personnel in Sudan are running low and the country’s healthcare system is on the verge of collapse, the UN’s health agency warned on Tuesday, as fighting continues.

"I want to be very clear: All parties must ensure unrestricted and safe access to health facilities for those injured and everyone in need of medical care," World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing.

The fighting, which erupted on Saturday between the Sudanese army and paramilitaries, has exacerbated an already difficult situation in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Some hospitals were already shut or are close to shutting down after attacks on them, said Tedros.

He added that some healthcare facilities were being looted, according to reports.

The WHO said Tuesday it had documented three attacks against healthcare facilities in Sudan which have claimed the lives of at least three people, according to Reuters.

"Attacks on healthcare facilities are a flagrant violation of humanitarian law and the right to health care, and must stop now," said WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris.

"It is very important for everyone concerned that these attacks stop," she said, adding that medical staff were finding it extremely difficult to reach hospitals because of the clashes.

Constant power cuts were also making it harder for hospitals and other facilities to operate.

The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) aid agency has said that half of Khartoum's hospitals have been out of service for the past 72 hours, either because staff did not feel safe or due to bombardment.

"This is because the staff weren’t feeling safe to go there or the hospitals themselves have been subject to shelling or bombing," he added.

The conflict between the armed forces, led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohammed Hamdan 'Hanadti' Dagalo, has once again derailed Sudan's transition to democratic rule after decades of dictatorship and civil war.

The rival factions continued to take up arms on Wednesday, defying a US-brokered ceasefire.

Air strikes and explosions bombarded Khartoum on the fifth day of fighting, especially near the defence ministry compound, and airport.

This is despite a 24-hour ceasefire which was supposed to be in effect from 6pm local time on Tuesday. However, clashes continued with the army and RSF issuing statements accusing the other side of failing to respect the truce.

(Agencies, The New Arab)