Statement by the WHO Regional Director on his visit to Sudan – Sudan

September 18, 2022, Khartoum, Sudan — Just completed a visit to Sudan, where I spent 3 days traveling through 3 states — Khartoum, Gadarif and Gezira — meeting with community leaders, federal and state health officials, health workers, health partners and other stakeholders working together to improve the health and well-being of all in Sudan.

The challenges facing Sudan are enormous and complex. I have witnessed the challenges faced by communities, health workers and managers, as well as WHO staff and health partners. WHO works in a context of limited resources and a difficult economic and political situation.

In a refugee camp in Gadarif state, I met Ethiopian families who, despite living in safety and away from conflict, are exposed to harsh elements and epidemics such as malaria.

I met communities living in flooded areas of Gezira State and saw reservoirs of stagnant water that create a breeding ground for waterborne and vector-borne diseases.

The links between climate change, severe weather and health are increasingly evident, including the drought and floods — which Sudan has experienced recently. WHO continues to sound the alarm on the link between drought, food security, hunger and disease: beyond malnutrition and the medical complications that can arise, a drop in immunity makes people more susceptible to contracting water-borne and vector-borne diseases, especially where access to water is limited.

Health authorities, WHO, UNICEF and other health partners, along with dedicated health personnel, are determined to contain this multidimensional health crisis that seems to be getting worse every year, compounded by new threats such as civil unrest and intercommunal conflict, COVID-19, monkeypox, and increasingly extreme weather events.

In Gezira, where more than 24,000 families have been affected by flooding this year — the highest number since 2013 — the Governor told me he is reactivating the Board of Health to ensure an approach multisectoral emergency response and strengthen surveillance and coordination.

While qualified health personnel are the backbone of any health system, the shortage of health workers fleeing Sudan for better opportunities abroad has resulted in a massive brain drain, leaving the health system of the country require additional specialized medical expertise.

A dedicated team of WHO staff — while personally affected by these threats — are working with all key stakeholders to ensure support for disease surveillance and that the most vulnerable, including children, pregnant women and those in need of psychological support, are given the health services they need.

During my visit, we marked the end of the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus 2 outbreak in Sudan, demonstrating the skill and diligence of health workers and public health officials in the country, as well as the extraordinary commitment of the Sudanese government to prevent the paralysis of children. by this disease.

We also marked increased efforts to contain malaria through an intensified country-led response with support from WHO and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.

The people of Sudan, more resilient than ever, are determined to make progress in health. For the first time in the country’s history, Sudanese doctors have started performing liver transplants inside the country. Last year, hundreds of children underwent life-saving heart surgery. And the University of Khartoum’s Mycetoma Research Center — a WHO Collaborating Center — works with dozens of medical centers around the world to contribute to global research and development on this disease. flesh eater.

But in such a difficult context, there is not much we can do. Unless the deep roots of this health crisis are addressed, we risk losing all of Sudan’s potential to continue to make significant health gains.

Time and again, peace and health have proven to be synergistic goals, with health being a prerequisite for achieving peace and peace a crucial condition for health.

Until the political and economic situation in Sudan stabilizes and the impacts of climate change are addressed globally, these challenges will continue to hamper our collective work to protect the health and well-being of millions of people. , women and children who have been left to survive in the harshest conditions with limited support from the international community beyond the immediate humanitarian response.

For audiovisual material from Sudan, please click on here

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