Escalating violence threatens hospitals in Sudan

Khartoum:  Al Nao hospital, the last operating health facility in Omdurman city northwest of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, is threatened by the escalating violence, Doctors Without Border (MSF) said.

“Violence is now escalating around Al Nao hospital, threatening patients and staff. Yesterday, shells landed to the north and southwest of the hospital,” the organisation said in a statement.

On days when the nearby fighting is at its heaviest, Al Nao mostly receives people injured by the violence, although it remains available for patients with other medical emergencies, it said.

It noted that the insecurity also affects hospital staff, as medics have to work double shifts when it is too dangerous for their colleagues to travel.

“As medics in Al Nao work round the clock, shells are landing nearby, causing yet more horror and threatening the hospital’s lifesaving work,” Frauke Ossig, MSF emergency coordinator in Sudan, said in the statement.

Ossig called on the fighting parties to spare civilians from the unacceptable violence and ensure the protection of hospitals and healthcare workers, warning that “if hospitals cannot function, there will be even more misery and suffering.”

From July 29 to August 11, the MSF staff at the Al Nao hospital worked alongside teams from the Sudanese Ministry of Health, providing emergency trauma care to 808 patients, 447 of whom had suffered injuries caused by gunshots, shrapnel from explosions, or stabbings, said the statement.

In the same period, the hospital treated 787 patients for other medical conditions, including diabetes, respiratory infections, and hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

Each day, the medical staff at Al Nao treated an average of 34 patients with violent trauma injuries, and 77 with other medical conditions, it said.

MSF supports eight hospitals in Khartoum state on both sides of the front lines, with staff working in hospitals in the cities of Khartoum and Omdurman.

In addition to Al Nao, MSF also provides care for wounded patients at Bashair Teaching Hospital and the Turkish Hospital in southern Khartoum.

Meanwhile, five international and local organisations have warned of the possibility of the collapse of the health sector in Sudan as more than 70 percent of hospitals are out of service.

Outbreaks of diseases such as malaria, measles and typhoid had been detected in a number of areas of Sudan, said a joint statement released on Thursday by the World Health Organization, Unicef, and Sudanese health organizations.

According to previous reports by the Sudanese Ministry of Health, 39 out of 59 basic hospitals in the capital and the states near the conflict zones are out of service.

Sudan has been witnessing deadly clashes between the country’s armed forces and paramilitary forces in Khartoum and other areas since April 15, resulting in at least 3,000 deaths and more than 6,000 injuries, according to official figures.

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