Sudan's health crisis worsens amid conflict, seasonal epidemics


An abandoned hospital in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, as deadly fighting continues in Sudan between rival generals' forces.

Photo credit: AFP

Concerns are rising over Sudan's worsening health situation amid a surge in seasonal epidemics, coupled with the ongoing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (Saf) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The Sudanese Ministry of Health has acknowledged the emergence of dengue fever, malaria, and cholera cases across various regions of the country. In a statement published on its Facebook page Tuesday evening, the ministry reported 21 cholera-related deaths in Khartoum and Gedaref states. 

According to the ministry, "265 suspected cases of cholera were reported in Gedaref State, with 18 fatalities, while Khartoum State recorded 13 cholera cases, including 3 deaths." 

Sudan Tribune, an independent news outlet, reported on Wednesday that dengue fever cases in Gedaref State have risen to at least 700, including 8 fatalities, citing Sudan's Acting Health Minister Haitham Mohamed Ibrahim.

"The dengue fever epidemic is spreading in 8 states, including the Red Sea, Kassala, Gedaref, Gezira, Sinnar, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, and North Darfur," the minister said, attributing the spread of the disease to the increasing breeding of mosquitoes amid the continuous rainfall.

He noted that the ministry launched a campaign to combat mosquitoes and other disease vectors in Gedaref State two weeks ago with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children's Fund (Unicef), and the federal support team in Gedaref State.

The Sudanese minister also mentioned that Gedaref had received essential supplies from WHO and the federal health ministry, including intravenous solutions and blood transfusion bags. In North Darfur State, malaria cases have surged to approximately 80,000, according to Sudan Tribune.

Ahmed Mohamed Al-Doma, deputy director general of the Ministry of Health in North Darfur State, also reported 25 cases of dengue fever in the state, with no fatalities.

On Tuesday, WHO reported outbreaks of cholera and dengue fever in eastern Sudan, with 162 suspected cholera cases admitted to hospitals in Gedaref and other border areas near Ethiopia.

Previously, Sudan's health ministry reported that the RSF had seized control of the country's primary medical supplies warehouse, resulting in the loss of medicines and medical equipment worth 500 million US dollars, along with a 70-percent loss of specialized centre equipment in Khartoum.

Last week, the United Nations revealed that approximately 1,200 children under the age of 5 in nine refugee camps in Sudan had died over the past four months due to a suspected measles outbreak and malnutrition, particularly in the White Nile State. 

Sudanese epidemiologist and community medicine specialist Hamza Awadalla expressed concerns about a potential widespread epidemic due to the deteriorating health sector's inability to address the crisis.

"The ongoing war has affected the health sector's ability to decisively respond to epidemics as nearly 100 hospitals have become out of service amid restrictions on movement for doctors and medical staff," Awadalla told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Sudan has been witnessing deadly clashes between the Saf and the RSF in Khartoum and other areas since April 15, resulting in at least 3,000 deaths and more than 6,000 injuries, according to figures released by the Sudanese Health Ministry.